‘Cameron’s coffin’ is 2007 Easter attack

By WND Staff

The Discovery Channel should cancel a scheduled airing of a film about a purported Jerusalem grave of Jesus Christ, and should apologize for presenting such “an unsubstantiated claim,” according to family values organizations.

Robert Knight, director of the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute, told WND that the film, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” is just the 2007 version of an annual attack on Christianity right around the time of Easter, the time at which the Christian church remembers Jesus’ Resurrection.

“It always seems to happen just before Easter,” he said. “It’s as if there’s a script going around, and everyone gets a turn at it – to call into doubt the central theme of Christianity, which is that Jesus is God Incarnate and rose from the dead.”

A year ago, he said, it was the film, “Da Vinci Code,” in which the claim is made that Jesus had a daughter. This year, under the pending “documentary” made by James Cameron, Jesus married Mary Magdalene, had son Judah, and they all died and were buried together in Jerusalem.

“The Discovery Channel bills itself as the ‘number one non-fiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion people in over 170 countries.’ But this bigoted documentary is pure fiction. Numerous leading scholars, including the Israeli archaeologist who first studied the site, have already rejected the notion that Jesus of Nazareth’s bones were found in the Talpiot tomb,” Knight said.

L. Brent Bozell III, the president of the MRC, said the program should be cancelled. If it isn’t, he said, the Discovery Channel “will have to explain why it is intentionally misleading the public.”

“They should be embarrassed by this plunge into sensational speculation masquerading as ‘science.’ To slander Christianity at the start of the Lenten season is unconscionable,” he said.

Bozell noted it was five years ago when the channel launched its promotion of the “James Ossuary,” alleged to be the bone box of James, Jesus’ half-brother, a relic later proven to be a forgery.

“Now it’s the ‘tomb’ of Jesus,” Bozell said. “What they’re really doing is attacking Christianity. The title of the documentary ought to be ‘Discovery Channel Says Christianity Is a Fraud’ – but they don’t have the guts to say it.”

Knight told WND that the danger is that people will believe what they see. “We saw this with the ‘Da Vinci Code.’ People bought into the alleged historical accuracy of claims, made even in a work of fiction, so when a documentary comes along, posing as objective critical analysis, that means more people will buy into the absurd and unproven premise that Jesus was just a man and that his earthly remains have been found.”

He noted that the “leap” of logic the film forces viewers to make is beyond belief. “All they can tell us is that two of the caskets in the crypt held remains that were unrelated maternally, then they take the giant leap of logic that these two people were married and they were Jesus and Mary Magdalene.”

By contrast, he said, the Bible is “the most well-documented piece of antiquity out there by far.” He said there exist portions of the New Testament that date to within 100 years of the actual events.

“The Discovery Channel, out of respect for the one billion Christians worldwide, should yank this program. It’s irresponsible. It’s incendiary, and it’s always aimed at Christianity,” he said.

Jerry Johnson, president of Criswell College in Texas, said Cameron’s claims are unscientific and heretical, and an apology is due.

“Cameron’s claims are founded on the desire to make good TV instead of forensic DNA evidence,” said Johnson. “Ironically, each Easter we see a story like this pop up in the media. … I’m asking Cameron to consider apologizing to the Christian community world-wide…”

“This program about Jesus’ alleged tomb is little more than a cynical ratings ploy that deserves to be buried with all of the other fantastical claims that arise about the ‘real’ Jesus this time of year,” said Jim Tonkowich, president of The Institute on Religion and Democracy. “The Discovery Channel’s program is an absurd venture into irresponsible conjecture that appears to be designed to tear at the fabric of the faith and hope of billions worldwide.

“An ossuary labeled ‘Jesus’ is about as specific to Christ as a chunk of wood that is claimed to be a part of the Ark,” he said.

Cameron, who previously directed “The Titanic,” earlier held a New York news conference to display two stone coffins he alleged came from a Jerusalem crypt he alleges belonged to Jesus and his family.

Rev. Rob Schenck, the president of the National Clergy Council, and it’s just another Hollywood attack on Christianity, and the production is no more than “a modern day circus sideshow.”

Theories about the possibilities that Jesus survived the crucifixion abound. One current website alleges that Jesus lived, moved to India, and died and is buried there, while another claims he’s buried in Japan.

But for anything like those website claims, or Cameron’s story, to be true, the thousands of pieces of historical documentation of the Bible, and the verification by secular historians of biblical people and events, would have to be discredited.

Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the conclusions cannot be supported by the evidence – but it’s a way to make money on television. He would have nothing to do with supporting the movie’s assertions. “It’s nonsense,” he said.

Schenck said the whole publicity stunt may backfire on Cameron, and encourage people to dig deeper into the reasons they believe the way they do. “In the end … the truth will be told,” he said.

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Previous stories:

Reports of Jesus’ grave ‘a sideshow’

‘Titanic’ attack on Resurrection

‘Da Vinci Code’ errors: A quick list, by Dr. D. James Kennedy