Hong Kong (AsiaNews) Even in the former British colony Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is drawing huge crowds of moviegoers. This past Easter holiday weekend the film was watched by at least 20,000 people in Hong Kong.
According to the Christian Times, since the Apr. 1 premier Christian churches have booked 50 separate private viewings of the film.
The two major movie theater chains have forbidden children under 18 to see the film on account of the some of the film's scenes judged to be "excessively" violent.
Various Protestant pastors pray together with viewers for 15-30 minutes prior to start of the film.
"It is has never happened before in Hong Kong that so many churches have flooded theaters," said Daniel Ng, an Evangelical Kong Fok Church pastor who had booked two viewings. The pastor had asked each member of his community to bring at least on non-believer along with them to see the film.
After the film all viewers are invited to his church for a moment of reflection and debate. Pastor Ng assures that after seeing "The Passion" "Christians strengthen their faith and can reflect on Jesus' suffering much more deeply" and that "non-Christians are moved deep down in their hearts".
"Some start asking why Jesus had to suffer and die in this way," he said.
Not all Protestants see things alike. A Christian Times survey shows that 31% of those interviewed said they "would never see a film which has altered the biblical account of events and spreads heresy"; 25% said they would go and see it; while 33% said they wouldn't go due to the movie's violent content.
Meanwhile in Taiwan "reactions to the film are excellent," an Italian nun, Ida Porrino, told AsiaNews. Sr. Porrino, a Daughters of St. Paul missionary serving on the island for nearly 30 years, said Taiwanese Protestants have prepared a guide to viewing the film and that Jesuit Father and expert film critic, David Yen, wrote an excellent commentary on the movie.
"Today I met a priest who had seen the movie 7 times and is thinking of going again since he says it helps a lot. Everyone is inspired (by the film), even if certain people think some scenes are too brutal to watch," the missionary said. "But such people are few and far between."
"Here the both the Catholic and Protestant Church (represented by parishes, schools and universities) rent out entire movie theaters. The Catholic University of Fu Jen in Taipei rented a theater as well." she said.
"This is first time churches have gathered so many together just to see a film. This is a witness to faith, unity and even savings: in fact when booking an entire theater tickets are sold at much cheaper rates!" (MR)