In Lehigh Valley, Interfaith Dialogue on The Passion

January 25, 2004

Source: The Morning Call,0,6806728.story?coll=all-newsopinion-hed

On January 25, 2004 The Morning Call reported on efforts to educate movie viewers in the wake of the release of Mel Gibson's The Passion. In Pennsylvania, "the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, based at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, plans a public forum Tuesday. The forum will feature Mary Boys and Michael Cook, scholars who read Mr. Gibson's script in April 2003.

The institute has formed a task force to provide educational materials and events to help people understand the historical background and scriptural issues that make portrayals of the passion of Jesus problematic. The task force goal, to help people approach the Gibson film 'as an active, thinking audience who can help prevent its misinterpretation in anti-Semitic ways' is commendable.

Others, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Council on Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations at Boston College, have expressed concerns, in part because of Mr. Gibson's approach. As a Traditionalist Catholic, he rejects the 1965 Second Vatican Council, which officially repudiated a collective Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus.

Religious leaders say that historically, the portrayal of Jews collectively as killers of Jesus prompts hatred and even violence toward Jews."