Passionate about “The Passion”

I grew up in a conservative Evangelical home, and attended a Baptist church for the first decade-plus of my life where every Baptist cliche was law. No dancing, no movies (heck, imagine how corrupted I could

have gotten from “Beach Blanket Bingo”, which was the sort of thing that was running at the time), no smoking, no booze, etc. Every element of this background suggests classical fundamentalism, and that would be a correct assessment. And this is exactly the sort of group that supposedly also had problems with Jews because “they killed Jesus”, in the current set of talking points from the cacophonous tribe that opposes most everything traditional or religious, this time led by Mr. Foxman of JADL. It wasn’t till I was much older that I studied enough and learned enough and was able to separate the legalistic propaganda from what I still recognize as the reality of a crucified, then resurrected Son of God and the way that we personally interact with Him.

The trouble is that this rigid portrayal of fundamentalists as anti-Semitic simply doesn’t work. The KKK may have had ugly views, but they were slime about all sorts of people. The crusaders were frequently terrible people. There may have been problems inside the Catholic church, but I never saw them myself as a Baptist, and none of my friends, including my Catholic best friend, ever even hinted at having any issue with the Jews. All my youth I never heard about “Christ-killers” or anything else even close- I heard instead “pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee”, I heard that Jews were good at business, that there had been prejudice against them because they were God’s chosen people, and we should not behave that way ourselves.

The first time I ever heard anyone even suggest that “the Jews killed Jesus” was on an episode of the late-’70’s TV series “Soap”, spoken by the blatantly cliched character played by Mary Kay Place. I was honestly puzzled: “Huh?” And I am just as puzzled by all the heat over “The Passion of the Christ” today. Corrupt religious leaders and nasty government authoritarians killed Jesus for their own reasons. But, as Gibson suggests in the film, in reality, we all did.

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