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Must violence, religion go hand in hand?

by James W. Prescott

A review of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ, published March 6, 2004 in The Ithaca Journal

Mel Gibson's rendition of the pain and brutality of the crucifixion, as a portrayal of "faith, hope, love and forgiveness," illuminates the tragedy and pathology of Christianity that has equated "love" with violence and pain.

Gibson told Diane Sawyer (ABC Primetime Feb. 16) that, "Pain is the precursor to change, which is great; that's the good news," and admitted that his crucifixion is "very violent," which he and others wanted most people to see "as a passion of love."

Gibson does not realize that the crucifixion provides a theological foundation for sadomasochism where pain and violence are the necessary precursors for experiencing the heavenly pleasures of salvation. Sadomasochism is deriving the experience of pleasure from pain and is a psycho-biological abnormality.

As a result, many Christian churches are orchestrating this psycho pathology of the Christian passion—an R-rated film, where violence becomes a "passion of love"—for many young children to witness as young as 10 and 12 years of age.

Some fundamentalist/evangelical Christian churches are renting entire theaters so that children can witness this pathology of violence.

The justification for exposing young children to this extraordinarily violent film that glorifies and morally justifies violence against the human body is that it will promote an understanding of the sacrifice that Jesus made for humanity—a level of consciousness that escapes most adults, let alone children.

To the contrary, exposing children to such violent images constitutes child endangerment that imperils their mental and emotional life, which is prohibited by law.

Churches, theater manages, Mel Gibson and parents must be prepared to defend themselves in court for the emotional and mental harm inflicted upon children who are compelled to view Gibson's interpretation of the passion.

Films of lesser violence have inflicted nightmares and other emotional disorders in children and who will be held responsible and accountable for the treatment of such children? Consent forms will not protect them.

We know from over two millennia of experience that the annual ritual of celebrating the crucifixion has not reduced human violence one iota.

This past century has been called the "Century of Violence," where religious warfare and violence of the father against women and children is central. The crucifixion of Christ has been a massive failure for stemming the tide of human violence but has been successful in transforming human love into an act of violence. The violence of the father upon the children and their mothers has continued throughout the millennia with no relief in sight, as we enter the 21st century.

These lessons have been lost in the religious wars of who was responsible for the murder of Christ on the cross, which evades the primary issue of the infliction of violence upon children by the father that begins with God the father. Contrary to the claims of Mel Gibson, his film is not about Christ's sacrifice but rather about the divine betrayal and abandonment of the son by the father, who committed an act of divine filicide as an act of love.

God the father was responsible for the "Word Becoming Flesh" (John 1:1-14) and for what purpose?

We are informed of that purpose in John 3:16-17: "God loved the world so much that he gave (murdered) his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not die but have eternal life." The "chosen people" and the Roman soldiers were merely pawns in God the father's master plan of "divine filicide" to save the world.

It is important to understand the history of pathological violence of God the father that is well chronicled in the Old Testament, where the children of God were often his victims.

Well known examples include his instruction to Abraham to slay his only son as a "sacrifice" (Genesis 22:2-23); his killing of every first-born creature in the land of Egypt (Exodus 11:4-5); his instruction to Moses to commit genocide against the Medianites for sexually corrupting the Israelites (Numbers 31:1-19); the stoning to death of errant sons (Deuteronomy 21:18-21); and of sexually errant women (Deuteronomy 22:13-21); and the beating of errant children to save their souls from hell (Proverbs 23:13-14). These are just a few examples of the violence of God the father that has created a morality for violent fatherly love that his children cannot escape.

It is these larger questions that, hopefully, will be addressed in the "dialogue" sought by Mel Gibson that should illuminate the origins of violence in the monotheistic religions.

Prescott is a retired research psychologist who has extensively studied the origins of peaceful and violent behaviors. He lives in Lansing.

Republished with the kind permission of James W. Prescott. HTML by Joel Schlosberg. Please inform us about any errors you find. If you want to write a translation, please contact Erik Möller.