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Controversy Over 'Temptation' Film

July 30, 1988

I am concerned about charges of anti-Semitism that have been leveled against Christian fundamentalists who are protesting the release of the film. As a black minister, I support the demonstrations against the film, and I believe that Jewish leaders should condemn the Jewish film makers who are largely responsible for its production.

Over the past four years, Jews themselves have expressed unrelenting outrage over the alleged anti-Semitic statements of the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. Each of these men spoke as individuals, as was their right under the First Amendment. Yet, Jewish leaders universally condemned them as representatives of black people, and predicted that their statements would threaten black/Jewish relations.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot (i.e., prominent Jews are producing an anti-Christian film), ironically Jewish leaders are insisting that their controversial movie moguls do not represent Jews in general; Jews are invoking the First Amendment on behalf of their producers. And some prominent Jews have asserted that those who foresee a Christian backlash over the production of the film are espousing hatred and provoking anti-Semitism.

I disagree with the defensive stance taken by a number of prominent Jews in this controversy. I submit that, in their self-serving interpretations of the Constitution and blatant attempts to block legitimate protests, Jewish leaders themselves are inciting an anti-Jewish response.

In our pluralistic society, no group--no matter how vocal or influential--should be isolated from criticism by perpetually redefining the parameters of acceptable public protests to accommodate its interests.

Accordingly, Jewish producers are entitled to no more deference than this society in general and Jews in particular have been willing to grant black ministers.


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