County churches, members, plan pilgrimage to “The Passion of the Christ”

According to Gail Smith, of Cimarron County's Ministerial Alliance, more than 500 members of 12 Cimarron County churches will, beginning today and over the next month, travel to Guymon to view Mel Gibson's controversial film, The Passion of the Christ . They aren't unique. The film has been hailed by many as a historically accurate portrayal of the last 12 hours in Jesus' life.

According to Jeanette Funderburg, Guymon's Suburban Theater has a four-week contract. “We recommend you call before driving in to see the film,” she said.

According to information on the Internet, Arch Bonnema, of Dallas, has already previewed the film. Bonnema, who is a Baptist and financial advisor, has spent $42 thousand of his own money to purchase six thousand tickets so others might see the film.

Bonnema reportedly e-mailed a few friends asking if they knew anyone wanting tickets; and claims that he had 23 thousand requests within three days.

The film opened today, Ash Wednesday, in more than two thousand theaters worldwide. It  opened at 12:01 a.m. in Aukland new Zealand, and very likely in other theaters across the International Date Line.

One theater chain in Indiana therorized on-line in early February that the advance ticket sales might outsell Harry Potter and perhaps surpass The Lord of the Rings trilogy in advance ticket sales.

The film has brought controversy for nearly a year, with Jewish leaders calling it Anti-Semitic before it was even previewed.

Much of this controversy was brought about by Gibson's father, Hutton, who has contended and continues to claim that the estimate of six-million Jews killed during the Holocaust is a misrepresentation. Instead, the elder Gibson claims the missing Jewish population of Eastern Europe immigrated to the U.S. and Australia.  Gibson, as producer and director has always denied the film as being Anti-Semitic.


Gibson, according to reports and interviews is a Catholic who rejects the Vatican II decrees of the 60s.

With the racial/creed issues dying some Biblical Scholars are now attacking the film calling it historically inaccurate, criticizing such things as hair styles, (Jewish men of the era didn't have long hair), and language; Jesus reportedly speaks in what one critic deems “...bad Latin” and said Jesus would have spoken in Greek instead.

But, whatever the criticisms, reportedly many of those of the Christian faith who desire for their children to see the film will ignore the R rating, (for violence), and go as a family.