Last August, after an Anti-Defamation League representative viewed a rough cut of The Passion of the Christ, league director Abraham Foxman declared the film would “fuel hatred, bigotry and antiSemitism.”

Aside from a handful of isolated incidents involving antiSemitic remarks made by school-children, Foxman's prediction has not materialized. In fact, a recent poll showed just the opposite.

A nationwide survey conducted for the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research found that the movie changed Christian attitudes toward Jews for the better. The poll, released in mid-March, found that 9% of Americans familiar with the film were less likely to blame today's Jews for Jesus' crucifixion. Eighty-three percent said the film has made them neither more nor less likely to fault modern Jews.

“While the film may have a different impact elsewhere in the world, so far The Passion of the Christ is not producing any significant anti-Jewish backlash,” said Dr. Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research. “The film and perhaps even more, the discussions about the film, are having something of a positive effect, which is good news.

“Some Jewish and Christian leaders have been understandably worried that the film might unleash a wave of hostility toward Jews and even erode the constructive effects of Vatican II,” Tobin added. “But this does not appear to be happening.”

Instead, the film is helping police departments solve previously unsolved crimes.

— Tim Drake