December 2, 1997 in Nation/World

Russian Church Blasts Airing Of Scorsese Film

Associated Press

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church assailed a TV station Monday for airing “The Last Temptation of Christ,” a controversial Martin Scorsese film about Jesus’ life, accusing NTV of violating the law and insulting believers.

“Any person who commits the sin of blasphemy and does not repent shall suffer punishment not only in future life, but also in earthly life,” Patriarch Alexy II said.

The film depicts Jesus Christ dreaming about marrying and having children. It has been banned in several countries.

In a rare meeting with reporters that reflected the uproar the film has caused, Alexy asked the government “not to remain indifferent to the insulting of the people’s religious feelings.”

He went on to accuse NTV, Russia’s largest independent broadcaster, of violating the Russian law that prohibits “deliberate insults” of people’s religious feelings in the mass media.

NTV broadcast the film in November in the early morning hours on a Monday, after twice backing down in the face of public protest.

The Russian Orthodox Church and several hard-line political organizations have spearheaded a protest, which echoed the uproar that greeted the film when it was released in the United States in 1988.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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