The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has committed itself to "live out our faith in Jesus Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people" (1994 Declaration to the Jewish Community). Our Guidelines for Lutheran-Jewish Relations include reminders that "the New Testament . . . must not be used as justification for hostility towards present-day Jews," and that "blame for the death of Jesus should not be attributed to Judaism or the Jewish people." In keeping with these commitments, we view with concern recent public reports regarding the forthcoming film on the Passion by Mr. Mel Gibson.
Recognizing his stature and influence as a film producer and celebrity, we can expect that Mr. Gibson's project will shape or reshape understandings of this central Christian story for millions of viewers. It is imperative that such influence be exercised with due regard for the powerful heritage of the Passion as gospel truth for Christians and as human tragedy for many Jews. It is possible to use the occasion of this major media event to build understanding and goodwill among Jews, Christians, and many others.
This statement is an important one for the Christian community.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has also put up a new section on their web site offering readers updated information on the film. The Religious Action Center is an important voice in social justice and their site covers a range of current topics.