'Passion' Film Lessens Hostility Towards Jews, Poll
By Melanie Hunter
CNSNews.com Deputy Managing Editor
March 15, 2004
(CNSNews.com) - Mel Gibson's film "The
Passion of the Christ" is lessening hostility towards Jews contrary
to what the film's Jewish critics predicted, a new poll shows. The
survey, conducted by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research,
shows 24 percent of Americans familiar with the film say that Jews
alive at the time of Christ's crucifixion were not responsible for
it. Less than two percent of Americans surveyed blame Jews for the
"While the film may have a different impact elsewhere
in the world, so far the Passion of the Christ is not producing any
significant anti-Jewish backlash," said Dr. Gary Tobin, president
"The film and perhaps even more, the discussions
about the film, are having something of a positive effect, which
is good news. Some Jewish and Christian leaders have been understandably
worried that the film might unleash a wave of hostility toward Jews
and even erode the constructive effects of Vatican II," he said.
"But this does no appear to be happening. Their
concern, however, was not unfounded given the rise of anti-Semitism
around the world, and the central theme of Christ killing in anti-Jewish
prejudice," said Tobin.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said the film provides
an accurate and thorough portrayal of the meaning of the life of
Jesus, compared to 13 percent who disagreed.
Among those who saw the film or are familiar with it,
most (83 percent) said the film had no impact on the extent to which
they feel contemporary Jews are to blame, compared to two percent
who said the film made them more likely to hold Jews responsible,
and nine percent who said it made them less likely to hold today's
Of the 146 respondents who saw the film, 80 percent
said the film had no impact, five percent said it made them more
likely to hold Jews responsible, and 12 percent said the film made
them less likely to hold today's Jews responsible.
"The questions raised about the anti-Jewish images
in the movie helped bring the question of the role of Jews in the
death of Christ out in the open. It is better to have dialogue and
honest discussion and trust that the bond between Christians and
Jews in America is strong," said Tobin.
The poll was conducted nationwide between 1,003 randomly
selected adults, on March 5-9. Percentage estimates based on the
full sample had an error rate of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
For estimates based on those who saw the film or are familiar with
it, the error rate was plus or minus 3.7 points.
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