An evangelical group has now joined the call for Mel Gibson to attach a statement regarding anti-Semitism to his upcoming film, “The Passion of the Christ.”
Mike Evans, a Texas minister and writer who heads up the Jerusalem Prayer Team, registered the domain name www.melj.net through his Mike Evans Ministries on Feb. 5.
The new Web site actually points to a page belonging to the Jerusalem Prayer Team, a worldwide prayer movement hoping to help “guard, defend and protect the Jewish people.”
The page at www.melj.net asks visitors to sign onto a form, which is actually a “Letter of Thanks to Mr. Mel Gibson.” The letter includes more than thanks; it also asks the director to add the following statement to the end of his film:
“During the Roman occupation more than one-quarter million Jews were crucified by the Romans, but only One rose from the dead.”
The letter goes on to say the following:
“Mr. Gibson, in doing this you would be communicating the suffering of the Jewish people under Roman occupation, so that those who desire to use the film to incite hatred toward the Jews would be deterred. This could well turn any controversy between Christians and Jews into compassionate understanding.”
As of Monday morning, more than 25,000 people had signed the letter, which Evans plans to forward to Gibson.
“I believe there is a serious crisis building here,” Evans said in a Wednesday article in the Los Angeles Times. “Without an addition of the kind we’re urging, this film will be used to fuel anti-Semitism around the world.”
Evans also told the Times that Gibson said last August he would add a similar postscript.
When Evans screened the film last summer, he told Gibson he wasn’t worried about anti-Semitism in the United States, but in other parts of the world, according to the Times. Evans said he didn’t want Jesus’ story being used to harm Jews.
Gibson, according to Evans, responded favorably and indicated he was going to add a postscript dealing with anti-Semitism.
Evans, however, told the Times he decided to go public about the postscript discussion with Gibson after the filmmaker failed to respond to similar requests from the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL’s executive director, Abraham H. Foxman, wrote an article with Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor that appeared in the New York Daily News on Feb. 3.
“We have urged Gibson to consider adding to the movie a postscript with him coming on screen at the end to implore his viewers not to let the film turn some toward a passion of hate,” they wrote.
Gibson has never responded directly to the request.
Foxman recently said that both Franklin Graham and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer had contacted him about supporting some of his concerns, according to a Feb. 7 story in the Palm Beach Post.
“The Passion of the Christ” will be released Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.