February 20, 2004

Speaking on behalf of the National Council of Churches, I condemn in the strongest terms the recent anti-Semitic remarks of Hutton Gibson, father of film producer Mel Gibson, including his bizarre assertion that the Holocaust did not occur. The Holocaust is a tragic historical fact.

The elder Gibson's comments are offensive in the extreme, not only to Jews, but also to all persons of good will. I understand that Hutton Gibson has made similar remarks in the past. However, the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ now has attracted substantial media attention to his father's vitriolic tirade and it must not stand unchallenged.

The leadership of the Council's 36 member denominations, who are the spiritual leaders of some 50 million U.S. Christians, deplore hate speech of any kind. Along with them I work toward a nation in which interfaith harmony and understanding among all our people may grow and flourish.

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