Evangelicals admire 'Passion,' not Gibson

Aug. 15, 2006 at 12:16 AM
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BARRINGTON, Ill., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. evangelical clergy say Mel Gibson's remarks about Jews were unfortunate, but did not change many opinions of "The Passion of the Christ."

The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said the actor-director's alleged drunken statement about "(expletive) Jews" being responsible for "all the wars in the world" -- made to a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy July 28 -- concerned him, The Washington Post said.

But he said the comments did not alter his view of how Jews had been portrayed in Gibson's film.

Many who saw the film two years ago defend Gibson and accept his apology when he was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence, the Post reported.

The Rev. Garry Poole of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said, "People say things when they're intoxicated that they don't necessarily mean."

But Haggard, senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, is unconvinced. "My view of alcohol is that it lowers inhibitions, and I think when people are drunk their inhibitions are removed and they say what they really think," Haggard said in a telephone interview with the Post.

Haggard believes that high quality films, like other creative endeavors, can emerge from imperfect people.

"The film stands on its own. It's a classic piece," Haggard said

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