NAE Defends Mel Gibson's New Movie, The Passion

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Amid attacks that claim Mel Gibson's new movie is anti-Semitic and historically inaccurate, the National Association of Evangelicals publicly affirms the historical and biblical accuracy of The Passion. The NAE defends Mel Gibson and applauds him for producing this work.

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) affirms the importance of the authentic retelling of the New Testament accounts in Mel Gibson’s latest film, The Passion. The NAE has established this position of support for the film in response to numerous attacks leveled at Gibson and the film. The brewing controversy comes as some, who have never seen the film and are critical of an early manuscript and some of the sources Gibson used, are claiming the movie is an incorrect representation of the historical account and will provoke anti-Semitism.

Ted Haggard, President of the NAE, the largest evangelical group in the United States, staunchly supports Gibson and the film. Haggard denies both claims against the movie and has regularly defended the film in the press since he attended a private screening with Gibson. In interviews on CNN and various radio networks, Haggard has described The Passion as, "A beautiful, wonderful account of the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus Christ. It is consistent with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

At a special showing in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Haggard, along with 30 other prominent evangelical leaders, reviewed the film and encouraged Gibson to release it with minor stylistic adjustments. All acknowledged the biblical accuracy of Gibson’s creative dramatization of the historical account.

CNN questioned Haggard on specific claims from the story, including Jewish leaders' offering blood money for Jesus' betrayal and Jewish people's inciting hatred toward Jesus, leading to his crucifixion. Haggard responded, "The movie portrays historical accounts realistically, but the Body of Christ worldwide does not blame Jewish people for the crucifixion. Evangelicals believe that our sins are responsible for creating the situation that required the crucifixion of Christ. Christ did not die because of the political and religious powers of the day, but for a far greater purpose. We are all responsible. This is why evangelicals view The Passion as a love story. It demonstrates the profound love Christ has for all people."

Haggard emphasized that evangelical Christians--who have a high view of the historical accounts in the Bible as shown in the film--are some of the most ardent supporters of Israel and defenders of Jewish people worldwide. He maintained that evangelical Christendom values the realistic portrayal of Jesus' last day and believes that the final effect of The Passion will be positive for Judaism in America and around the world.

”In the current global clash of civilizations, I'm surprised that some Jewish leaders would protest a movie portraying the final hours of Christ's life. There is a great deal of pressure on Israel right now, and Christians seem to be a major source of support for Israel. For the Jewish leaders to risk alienating 2 billion Christians over a movie seems shortsighted," Haggard said. "On one hand, it actually feels trite," Haggard continues, "It would have been ridiculous for England to have launched a public relations effort against BraveHeart because it portrays William Wallace in a positive light, who led a rebellion against the British.”

The NAE believes Gibson’s film is an accurate depiction of the final hours of the life of Jesus Christ and true to the teaching of the New Testament. The NAE affirms the accurate representation of the historical and Biblical account of the life of Christ and applauds the efforts of Mel Gibson and others to produce this work.

For additional comments or interviews please contact:

Kyle Fisk, NAE Executive Director

(719) 268-8211 kfisk@nae.net

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