• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Passion‘s Impact on American attitudes towards Jews

A poll of 1003 random American adults has discovered that The Passion is lessening hostility to Jews. The survey, conducted by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, shows that

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 crucifixion today…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.

This is encouraging news. There’s still a question, though: 76% appear to think either that Jews at the time were responsible or don’t know. What does that mean? That Jews alive then in general were responsible? Or just the Jews of Jerusalem? Or the Pharisees? Or the Temple authorities in collusion with the Romans (my own view, by the way, following E.P. Sanders)? How does that translate into views of Judaism or Jewish character, even if “collective guilt” is rejected?

The Institute admits that outside the USA the results might be very different. Given that copies of pirated DVDs are in hot demand in Saudi Arabia, we may soon know the answer to that.

Meanwhile, I note that a new CD is on the way: Songs Inspired by ‘The Passion of the Christ’. This will include songs by Elvis Presley and Ricky Skaggs…

UPDATE (3 April): A new poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (brought to my attention by The Church of Critical Thinking), reveals that

26 percent of respondents believe Jews were to blame for the Crucifixion, up from 19 percent in ABC News poll in 1997.

The greatest increase was among young people and blacks.

Thirty-four percent of those under age 30 now believe Jews were responsible, compared to 10 percent in 1997, the Pew Center said. And 42 percent of blacks hold that view, compared to 21 percent seven years ago.

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