Carole Mikita ReportingWhat was called an historic gathering of clergy in Utah attended a special screening of Mel Gibson's new movie.
There were nearly 400, representing the major faith groups in our community. They were all pleased to be invited, but not all agreed with the movie's message.
Religious leaders and educators --Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Jews and Latter-day Saints-- gathered to see a film their flocks or students are curious about.
As it began they were left alone to contemplate how this cinematic work might fit with their faiths. They exited much more subdued than they had begun.
Robert Millet, Ph.D., Brigham Young University: "I think all of us sat there following the movie feeling stunned by the reality of the experience."
Rev. France Davis, Calvary Baptist Church: "It is a great testimony to the life as well as the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Some addressed the age appropriateness of the movie.
Rev. Michael Imperiale, First Presbyterian Church: "I do recommend this film to adults, to adults, to be sure. But to come and just see the great love God has for us."
Daniel John, Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City: "I have a 14-year-old and 12-year-old daughters, and this is something they need to see. If this is what we believe as Catholics, as Christians then we need to see this kind of thing."
The rabbis of several congregations added their concerns about Gibson's portrayal of Jewish leaders in this film.
Rabbi Benny Zippel, Chabad Lubavitch of Utah: "We're being portrayed here as blood-thirsty murders, criminals. Is extremely inaccurate and inappropriate."
Rabbi Tracee Rosen, Congregation Kol Ami: "Given the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, I'm very concerned about the impact of that movie over there."
Agree or disagree with a filmmaker's vision, each one expressed appreciation at being included at opening more dialogue..
"The Passion of the Christ" opens in theatres throughout the country tomorrow, many of them reserved for church groups.