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VOLUME 1 • ISSUE 11   |   Release date: April 15, 2004

In This Issue
Cowell: Special Music "Really Awful"
Darwinists Strike Again
SBs Boast Highest Rate of "Passion"
Survey Results
April Church Sign of the Month

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Southern Baptists Boast Highest Rate of "Passion" Viewership
Study Finds 92% of SB's Have Seen Mel Gibson's Controversial Film

VENTURA, CA – A study released April 14th by the Barna Research Group puts the Southern Baptists at the top of the denominational heap in terms of the percentage of regular attenders who have seen Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" – the controversial and hugely successful film about the final 12 hours of the life of Christ.

An impressive 92% of Southern Baptists over the age of 12 polled in a Barna phone survey said they have seen "The Passion" at least once. Catholics came in a distant second with 65%. Presbyterians were third with 54%. The study has a margin of error of ± 3%.

"I see this as something of which the Southern Baptists can really be proud," said Barna Research Group President George Barna. "I think some good PR like this will be just what the doctor ordered for them."

The response of Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Chairman Gary A. Smith was one of surprise. But his surprise was that the number was not higher than 92%.

"I don't know where Barna found this other eight percent," an obviously agitated Smith told THO in a phone interview. "We have sent out mass mailings; we've required our churches to hang up the movie posters in their lobbies; we've bussed the cripples; and we've strongly encouraged all of our pastors to promote the film from the pulpit. You show me a Southern Baptist who has not seen this movie, and I will put him in my car right now and drive him to the theater. What more can we do?!"

Although he is writing a letter of protest to George Barna demanding an investigation of the study, Smith said that he plans to promote the distinction on the cover of the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Report.

"It's definitely a good thing that we're number one. I mean, Ecclesiastes 9:10 and everything," Smith said. "But we still have to do everything in our power to get this number up to 100%, and ideally 103% so we can cover the margin of error."

Patty Messick – a lifelong Southern Baptist from Oak Park, MI who has seen "The Passion of the Christ" eight times, including twice on opening day – was "shocked" that there were members of her denomination who had not yet seen the film.

"I don't know a single person in my church who has not yet experienced this movie," Messick said. "How can we be a witness to others when we haven't even seen the movie ourselves? I wish I could apply some of my viewings to these slackers. It's truly disturbing."

Barna told THO that he is confident in the accuracy of the study, and that he sees no need to conduct any kind of investigation.
"These numbers are rock solid, ±3% of course," he said. "Leave it to the Southern Baptists to be mad about being ranked number one in something."

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