Religious activists urge Gibson to create Passion fund - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
April 7, 2004

Religious activists urge Gibson to create Passion fund

-7/4/04

Two religious and social activists from Washington, D.C. have called on Mel Gibson to donate the profits of his film, the "The Passion of the Christ," to causes they say truly represent and symbolise Jesus Christ's life, principles, and teachings.

Coming right before the Passover "seder" night for Jews and one week before the Easter celebration for Christians, the call asks Gibson to create a "Passion Fund" that would be financed by the film's estimated 0 million profits and would support efforts to combat religious intolerance and hatred and promote interfaith community building, peace, justice, non-violence, reconciliation, social action, and community service.

"The Passion film failed to provide any sense of what Jesus really stood for during his life: peace, love, justice, and non-violence," said Reverend Jim Dickerson, a long-time Protestant Minister with an inner city pulpit, social justice activist, and founder of Manna, Inc., a D.C. nonprofits housing and community development corporation.

In the aftermath of "The Passion" film, Dickerson joined long-time friend and colleague Jerry Levine this week to lead the call to Gibson in a three-page letter that has been distributed widely to news outlets in the D.C. metropolitan area. The letter challenges Mr. Gibson to "right the wrongs" that have resulted from the film, namely the deterioration of Christian-Jewish relations and interfaith community efforts. Dickerson and Levine called for the Fund after seeing the film together recently, becoming deeply disturbed about it, and vowing to do "something positive," they said.

"The film already has and will continue to generate tensions and fear among many in Christian, Jewish, and other religious communities," said Levine, who is an active member of his synagogue and other Jewish organizations, an Advisory Neighbourhood Commissioner in the District, housing attorney, and foundation manager. "Since the film's release, so much has already happened worldwide to offend and cause hurt. The film has pitted two major faiths against each other and divided them over the implications and potential consequences of the film's success," Levine said.

The Passion Fund is an appropriate vehicle for healing following the release of Gibson's movie, Dickerson says, because making money from the death of Jesus "is another kind of crucifixion that distorts the true meaning of Jesus' suffering and death."

The Passion Fund is an appropriate vehicle for healing following the release of Gibson's movie, Dickerson says, because making money from the death of Jesus "is another kind of crucifixion that distorts the true meaning of Jesus' suffering and death."

"Mr. Gibson has a chance to do something significant about reversing all of this and to reduce tensions resulting from the controversy over his film. He is now faced with an unparalleled opportunity to bring good out of evil," Dickerson and Levine said.

Dickerson said, "We urge him to invest these funds strategically on programs that embody what Jesus stood for, what he worked for, what he died for, and what he commanded others to do. We are asking that he undertake an immediate and intensive program of active giving in these interfaith and social action areas. The good that these funds could do is immense and is sorely needed - now more than ever."

Both Dickerson and Levine have continued to advocate in each of their respective faith communities for a renewed interfaith dialogue throughout the metropolitan area. However, they believe that churches, synagogues, and religious centres can and should move far beyond dialogue and utilize shared communal values, ethics, and theology to undertake joint social action and service projects in local communities.

Religious activists urge Gibson to create Passion fund

-7/4/04

Two religious and social activists from Washington, D.C. have called on Mel Gibson to donate the profits of his film, the "The Passion of the Christ," to causes they say truly represent and symbolise Jesus Christ's life, principles, and teachings.

Coming right before the Passover "seder" night for Jews and one week before the Easter celebration for Christians, the call asks Gibson to create a "Passion Fund" that would be financed by the film's estimated 0 million profits and would support efforts to combat religious intolerance and hatred and promote interfaith community building, peace, justice, non-violence, reconciliation, social action, and community service.

"The Passion film failed to provide any sense of what Jesus really stood for during his life: peace, love, justice, and non-violence," said Reverend Jim Dickerson, a long-time Protestant Minister with an inner city pulpit, social justice activist, and founder of Manna, Inc., a D.C. nonprofits housing and community development corporation.

In the aftermath of "The Passion" film, Dickerson joined long-time friend and colleague Jerry Levine this week to lead the call to Gibson in a three-page letter that has been distributed widely to news outlets in the D.C. metropolitan area. The letter challenges Mr. Gibson to "right the wrongs" that have resulted from the film, namely the deterioration of Christian-Jewish relations and interfaith community efforts. Dickerson and Levine called for the Fund after seeing the film together recently, becoming deeply disturbed about it, and vowing to do "something positive," they said.

"The film already has and will continue to generate tensions and fear among many in Christian, Jewish, and other religious communities," said Levine, who is an active member of his synagogue and other Jewish organizations, an Advisory Neighbourhood Commissioner in the District, housing attorney, and foundation manager. "Since the film's release, so much has already happened worldwide to offend and cause hurt. The film has pitted two major faiths against each other and divided them over the implications and potential consequences of the film's success," Levine said.

The Passion Fund is an appropriate vehicle for healing following the release of Gibson's movie, Dickerson says, because making money from the death of Jesus "is another kind of crucifixion that distorts the true meaning of Jesus' suffering and death."

The Passion Fund is an appropriate vehicle for healing following the release of Gibson's movie, Dickerson says, because making money from the death of Jesus "is another kind of crucifixion that distorts the true meaning of Jesus' suffering and death."

"Mr. Gibson has a chance to do something significant about reversing all of this and to reduce tensions resulting from the controversy over his film. He is now faced with an unparalleled opportunity to bring good out of evil," Dickerson and Levine said.

Dickerson said, "We urge him to invest these funds strategically on programs that embody what Jesus stood for, what he worked for, what he died for, and what he commanded others to do. We are asking that he undertake an immediate and intensive program of active giving in these interfaith and social action areas. The good that these funds could do is immense and is sorely needed - now more than ever."

Both Dickerson and Levine have continued to advocate in each of their respective faith communities for a renewed interfaith dialogue throughout the metropolitan area. However, they believe that churches, synagogues, and religious centres can and should move far beyond dialogue and utilize shared communal values, ethics, and theology to undertake joint social action and service projects in local communities.

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