A Passion -- for Plunder and Slaughter

Statement on "The Passion of the Christ" from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, New York Branch

Revolutionary Worker #1231, March 7, 2004, posted at rwor.org

The following statement was issued by the RCP New York Branch.

Everybody's talking about the passion of Jesus.

But what about the sufferings and executions and "passion" of untold millions and tens of millions over the past 20 centuries carried out in the name of Jesus?

What about the slaughters that Christians carried out against each other in violent, decades-long disputes over Biblical trivia? What about the so-called Crusades, in which Christians from Europe invaded the Middle East almost a dozen times in the Middle Ages--again in the name of Christianity--and repeatedly slaughtered hundreds of thousands, even while a like number of Christians died? What about the millions of Jews killed by Christians, including not just during the Holocaust- -which Mel Gibson minimizes if not outright denies--but well before then, throughout Europe? What about the slave trade, in which tens of millions of African people were ripped from their homes and sold into bondage--and which included the murder of over 1/3 of those slaves on the ships that dragged them from Africa to America--and during which the priests and preachers quoted chapter-and-verse justifying this horrendous crime and literally sprinkled holy water on the slave ships as they left port? What about the lives of untold millions of women, doomed to rape and subjugation, to bearing unwanted children or dying in childbirth after having been forced to bear 10, 12 or even more children--all because "the Bible wills it?"

And what about the ways in which the cross was used to justify the murder of millions of Native American Indians? And if you think this is ancient history, what about Guatemala--where the born-again Christian general, Rios Montt, took power in the early 1980s and murdered tens of thousands of Guatemalan Indians--with his army razing Indian villages to the ground and killing small children and infants before raping their mothers--all, once again, sanctified and blessed on national TV, no less, by the born-again fascist Pat Robertson-- in the name of Christianity ? Yes, the same Pat Robertson that Mel Gibson worked with to promote The Passion !

Yes, what about THIS passion and suffering--the murderous oppression, down through the centuries, aided and abetted and in some cases directly caused by Christianity?

Mel Gibson's Agenda

The Passion of the Christ is said to be the most violent Jesus movie ever--in fact, Mel Gibson has gone out of his way to emphasize this. In an interview with the Christian Pax TV network, he emphasized that "I want to push you over the edge, push you right over the edge, so you stay there and hang out with, and get to a higher plane to something, through the pain." [quoted in Feb. 20 New York Times ]

Mel's "higher plane" is nothing but the plane where people's emotions overwhelm their reason and they are prepared to kill and die in the name of Jesus. The military music that is said to accompany what the movie portrays as the resurrection of Jesus makes this even clearer. That "higher plane" has historically been used to carry through the kinds of murderous oppression discussed above.

Sorry, but Mel Gibson is not some poor innocent who is being unfairly hounded for just trying to express his beliefs. He has created a piece of propaganda to spread his particular take on Christianity --one which says that each and every word in the Bible is literally true and which, in particular, attempts to blame all Jewish people all through history for the execution of Jesus. Gibson screened his movie in advance to extremely right-wing Christian Fascists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, to build political support. But he refused to screen it to Jews and Christians who were concerned about the ways in which such a movie could be used to stir up hatred for Jews. Many Christian scholars and clergy actually criticize parts of the Bible (or at least interpretations of the Bible) as being inaccurate, distorted or even wholly invented versions of history and many more are very concerned and anguished about the ways in which the Biblical stories about Jesus have been used through history and down to today to justify terrible abuses and oppression. But not Mel Gibson. Instead, he has posed as a victim and complained in advance that he was being censored, and tried to stir up people against liberals and Jews even before his movie came out.

Mel Gibson's agenda fits right in with that of the Christian Fascists who've been promoting this movie like crazy: creationism, outlawing abortion and generally subjugating women, persecution of gay people, etc. And it dovetails in important ways with the would-be Messiah now occupying the White House, who has also talked about a "crusade" and routinely claims that "god" supports his wars, repressive laws, and vicious economic policies. This makes The Passion all the more dangerous--in what are very dangerous and deadly times.

What About The Bible??

Mel Gibson says that he's only telling what it says in the Bible, and that the Bible is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But is the Bible literally true?Well, no. For starters, the Bible contradicts itself all over the place, including in the stor(ies) of Jesus . As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and author of Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones and Liberation Without Gods has pointed out:

"The gospels are not all in agreement on what Jesus said at the moment just before he died on the cross. According to Matthew, just before Jesus died he cried out the sorrowful, despairing words: `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' (Matthew 27:46). Mark has Jesus saying the same thing (Mark 15:34). But Luke and John do not have Jesus say this. In Luke, Jesus does utter the words: `Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' (Luke 23:34). John presents Jesus as even more lofty and exalted at the hour of his death--even having Jesus carry his own cross, while in other gospels someone else carried it for him (see John 19:17 vs. Matthew 27:32). Further, in Matthew and Mark the thieves who were crucified with Jesus mocked and reviled him (see Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32). But in Luke one of the thieves asked Jesus to remember him favorably `when thou comest into my kingdom,' to which Jesus answered: `Verily I say unto thee, Today thou shalt be with me in paradise' (Luke 23:42-43). Further, the gospels don't all agree on what exactly happened after Jesus rose from the dead--whom he saw (and was seen by), and in what order; whom he talked with and what was said; how long Jesus remained on earth before ascending to heaven; and so on. (Compare the final chapters of the four different gospels to see these discrepancies.)" ["Liberation Without Gods," Bob Avakian]

So Mel Gibson can't even be "true to" the gospels, let alone to reality, since the gospels disagree among themselves as to what really happened on such a basic point as how Jesus died!! Instead, Gibson has chosen to highlight only those parts that suit his agenda--and to import some especially lurid stuff that isn't even in the Bible. The reason that the Gospels disagree is that they were written at different times by different men (not by "God") and that these men had different agendas--just as Gibson has his own agenda today. (For instance, the earliest gospel was more concerned with establishing the legitimacy of Jesus' followers within the Jewish religion and tradition of the time, while the later gospels were more interested in differentiating the followers of Jesus from the Jews.)

Let's look at some other parts of the Bible. Let's even look at the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments takes it for granted that slavery is just fine and dandy and even makes sure to mention it. It says that we should not covet our neighbor's property--and as property it includes his slaves (that's what "maidservants" and "manservants" were). The Bible (including the New Testament) also approves of slavery elsewhere and, again, in a very matter-of-fact way.

Dig a little deeper. In Exodus 32:19-28 we learn that while Moses was getting these Ten Commandments, the "children of Israel" decided to worship a golden calf, and so Moses slaughters 3,000 Israelites in a single day, in an act of mass murder--one of many--which the Bible wholeheartedly approves and indeed celebrates. Or take a look at Exodus 21, Deuteronomy 22 and Judges 21--where the mass kidnapping and rape of "heathen" women is not just described but celebrated. You can argue that these were how people acted in olden times and we shouldn't judge them by our standards (although there were plenty of similar and even worse actions carried out by this "Judeo-Christian nation" in Vietnam)--but then why in the world should we adopt other parts of their ancient and backward morality as "the literal truth" for today?!??

Not only is the Bible not literally true--not only is it a book full of what can charitably be described as a hodge-podge of remarkably violent legends, tall tales and tribal history, interspersed with a little lyric poetry, a lot of revenge-filled fantastical rants and some origin myths--but these were all told and then set down in writing to reinforce first, a patriarchal desert agricultural society several thousand years ago, then a slave empire in Rome, and then an oppressive feudal society in Europe. It is filled with codes of behavior that are either hypocritical or openly oppressive. Now this same ancient stuff is being adapted to reinforce the capitalist oppression of today, in a 25-million-dollar, cleverly-promoted, Hollywood film. WE DON'T NEED THIS!

Open your eyes, people. Don't be taken in. Chairman Avakian has said it is time to quit praying to things that don't exist and time to be liberating our minds and moving to end oppression the only way it can be done--by fighting it. This is reality. Find out more about it--and join us in transforming the world, in making revolution against this dog-eat-dog system and reaching a world truly worthy of human beings. Let's move human society beyond a point where it is divided into different classes, with the few monopolizing the wealth and power and the rest slaving for them and being downpressed by them; let's eliminate all forms of inequality and oppression so that there is no more a situation where men subjugate women or one nation subjugates others; let's advance human relations to the point where people no longer have a need or interest in exploiting each other and treating each other as property to be used and manipulated; let's bring into being a world where people relate as freely associating human beings--this is communism, revolutionary communism. And YOU need to check it out.

New York Branch, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA