Patrick Belton is concerned about the results of this poll which shows a rise in the number of people who believe that "that Jews were responsible for Christ's death." The poll also shows a correllation between people who hold that belief and those whove seen Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.
That these views are correlated with having seen Mel Gibson's "Passion" movie is borne out by the survey - particularly, again, among the troubling "young anti-semite" demographic: of those 18-34 year olds who have seen the film, 42 percent believe Jews were responsible for Christ's death, compared with 36 percent of 35-59 year olds who watched the movie. And for respondents 60 years and up, there was hardly any difference between the responses of people who had seen the film and those who hadn't.
We should be careful what kind of views we impart to the youngest generation - they'll be with us for quite some time.
Honestly, I've never understood why people get so antsy when they find out that people believe that their were Jews who were complicit in the death of Jesus. Every historical record that I'm aware of bears this fact out. Some Jews, specifically some priests and members of the Sanheidren, were the driving force behind his crufixion. This is an objective fact and I can't understand why people are afraid of it. In fact, what I find bizarre is that only a quarter of those surveyed held this view.
What people should worry about is that some people believe that the death of Christ represents some sort of corporate sin on the part of the Jewish race and that as a result Jews living today bear the guilt of this sin. That is worrisome indeed because this belief has often been either the cause, or the excuse, for a great deal of the violence that has been carried out against the Jewish people over the centuries.
If this poll showed that, because of the film or for other reasons, the number of people who held this view was rising, I'd be very concerned. However, it doesn't appear to show anything of the sort. In fact, the story Belton links to says:
Despite the increasing belief among some groups that the Jews were responsible for Christ's death, other surveys have shown that only a tiny minority believes that Jews today should bear responsibility for what happened to Christ 2000 years ago. An ABC News/PrimeTime poll, released Feb. 15, found that just 8% think that "all Jews today" bear responsibility for the death of Jesus, compared with 80% who reject that view.
While we're not given specific numbers about trends on this question, we are told that the number doesn't appear to be rising. As I said, I believe this is the critical issue, and on this issue opinions don't appear to be changing. Given that fact, I really don't see the cause for alarm.
While I'm at it though, I'd like to point out that the 8% who do hold this absurd corporate guilt view are INSANE. Maybe not literally, but they are holding a very irrational view. There simply is no support for the view that the Jewish people hold some special sort of corporate guilt for the death of Christ.
What is true is that EVERY human being, whether they admit it or not, bears a personal responsibility for the death of Christ. After all, we have all sinned and it was that sin that made the crucifixion necessary. So, if there's anyone out there who feels the need to find someone to take out they're rath over the cruxifixion on, stop blaming "the Jews" and look in the mirror.
Update: And David Adnesnik makes matters even worse:
While I am no expert on the Gospels, my reading of the text suggests that placing collective blame on the Jewish people for the death of Christ is an integral aspect of the Gospels' theological agenda. The Jews' responsibility for the death of Christ is one demonstration among several that they are no longer the Chosen People and that their religion is no longer relevant.
I have no idea what basis David uses to come to this conclusion. There is nothing in the Gospels that assigns collective guilt in the way David describes it to the Jews or anyone else. And Christianity, by it's nature, is not a new religion, but the natural and foretold extension of Judaism. Further, it is not accurate to say that the Bible teaches that the Jews have been replaced as God's Chosen People.
Rather, as Paul taught the tree is unchanged, but those Jews who refused to accept Christ would be pruned and those gentiles who did accept him would be grafted in. This is a very different concept. I realize that some people don't recognize the distinction, but it's there, and it's very important.