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Now that anyone who's anyone has weighed in on Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ, it's my turn. I'm a regular individual, not a professional, nor a commentator beyond the occasional miffed letter to the editor. I have no radio show or weekly column. I'm just a run-of-the-mill, devout Christian.

Like commentators before me, I also believe that the highly publicized nature of the charge of anti-Semitism relative to this film was brought about in error. My experience in both Protestant and Catholic circles in Texas and California has been one of witnessing the power of Christ's Passion to inspire sincere individuals toward repentance and love–certainly not hatred toward Jews. So I too have winced when I've read what sounds like over-the-top predictions of violence against Jews come Ash Wednesday.

On the other hand, through my learning and teaching within the Jewish community and being a guest at many a Shabbat table, I've heard worries honestly expressed and am therefore moved to plead with my Christian brothers and sisters to respond with compassion when Jews raise questions about the net effect The Passion will have on their welfare.

Those who defend The Passion seldom take these fears to heart. Worse yet, I've witnessed in these months leading up to the film's release a persistent tendency by writers who profess to be Christians to write off "Foxman and company" with such words as "kibitzers," "leftists," and "opportunistic fundraisers." Early on, a well-known Christian entertainment pundit denounced those raising questions about the film as "a pack of anti-Christs," thereby tapping into the rhetoric of historical anti-Semitism. The latest dismissive wave of the hand came from an otherwise much respected and loved ...

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February 2004

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