Media Watch

Jewish Film Producer Called Anti-Semitic

THE OTTAWA CITIZEN, Nov. 19—Canadian Jewish filmmaker Garth Drabinsky was somewhat surprised when other Jewish artists and critics condemned him for filming the Gospel of John, according to The Ottawa Citizen. Drabinsky called the charges “pure nonsense” and explained that the whole theme of the Gospel is “Jews arguing with Jews.”

Drabinsky is the director of a series of scripturally based films for the Toronto-based Visual Bible Inc.

Perhaps the most stinging attack on the film came from Paul Shaviv, principal of a Toronto Jewish school attended by several members of Drabinsky's family: “I cannot imagine how any responsible Jew can be associated with this film. Jewish initiative in this production is, in my view, a disgrace, and doubly dangerous and irresponsible at a time when anti-Semitism in its crudest and darkest form is resurgent around the globe.”

The filmmaker called the critique “a ridiculous diatribe.” He admitted the Gospel of John is “an uncomfortable story, but that doesn't mean you should walk away from what is probably the most quoted of all the books of the Bible.”

The Moral Minority?

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 17—Left-wing clerics are organizing their own religious coalition to counter the powerful influence of the Christian Coalition, according to The New York Times.

The new group, calling itself the Clergy Leadership Network, announced that it hopes to bring about “sweeping changes—changes in our nation's political leadership and changes in failing public policies.”

Its chief executive officer, the Rev. Albert Pennybacker of Lexington, Ky., said: “The Christian Right has been very articulate, but they have been exclusive and veryjudgmental of anyone who doesn't agree with them. People may want to label us the Christian Left. But what we really are about is mainstream issues and truth, and if that makes us left then that shines even more light on the need for a shift in our society.”

Pennybacker, a Disciples of Christ minister and former official with the National Council of Churches, said the group's key issues are “people without jobs, people who are hungry [and] people burying children killed in Iraq.”

Bad Santa Blackens Disney's Snow White Image

CATHOLIC LEAGUE, Nov. 20—An upcoming Disney movie, Bad Santa, has Christian observers up in arms.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, after watching the movie in a preview, has denounced it for ridiculing Christian holy days and traditions.

League president William Donohue noted that in the film, the “Santa” played by Billy Bob Thornton “is a chain-smoking, drunken, foul-mouthed, suicidal, sexual predator. He is shown soiling himself in Santa's chair, vomiting in alleys, having sex with a woman bartender in a car. … And his commentary in front of kids is replete with the ‘F-word.’”

Donohue noted that the offending Disney subsidiary, Miramax, "has produced a slew of movies that thrash Christianity and have blackened Disney's Snow White image. … While this film is not blasphemous per se, it is nonetheless offensive. It says something about our society that some movie reviewers welcome attacks on Christmas."