.- At the root of the Anti-Defamation Leagueâs fear regarding âThe Passion of the Christâ is that the film âmight actually inspire lapsed Christians to return to the faith,â said Catholic League president William Donahue in a press release issued this week.
Donahue said the ADLâs claim that Mel Gibsonâs movie may incite violence against Jews after its release, Feb. 25, is unfounded, citing a recent interview he had with leading Passion Play scholar and Columbia University professor James Shapiro.
âNo one has raised the specter of violence more than ADL director Abraham Foxman,â he said. Donahue cited several occasions in the press recently, in which Foxman has spoken about the dangers he perceives with the film and its marketing.
In the Feb. 7 issue of the Detroit Free Press, Foxman said historically Passion Plays ârationalized anti-Semitic behavior. We fear this [film] will, too.â
But Donahue said he asked James Shapiro, the nationâs leading scholar on Passion Plays, when was the last time Jews were beaten up after a Passion Play.
âAside from one Catholic convert in Nazi Germany who was attacked, we have to go back to the Middle Ages to find examples,â Donahue recounted of his conversation with Shapiro. âAnd in the U.S., there is no record of violence against Jews following any Passion Play. In short, there is no need to call out the National Guard,â he said.
Donahue concluded by referring to the Feb. 7 issue of the Orlando Sentinel, in which Foxman said Gibsonâs film âis not being sold as a movie. Itâs being sold as a religious experience, as a pilgrimage, as a way back to faith.â
âSo this is Foxmanâs worst nightmare,â Donahue said. âGibsonâs film might actually inspire lapsed Christians to return to the faith. That says it all.â