Television

Catholic forum forces Discovery to cancel plans to air documentary on 'Tomb Of Jesus' in India

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MUMBAI: Looks like Catholics in India are more than a little touchy when it comes to Jesus on film and television. Earlier this year, they had opposed the movie The Da Vinci Code. The film was eventually released with a note before and after the film that it was a work of fiction.



Now the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) has forced Discovery to cancel plans to air the documentary The Lost Tomb Of Jesus. As has already been reported by Indiantelevision.com, the programme claims to show that scientific analysis of limestone ossuaries (bone boxes) and physical evidence found in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Talpiot, Jerusalem, provide credible new information that the tomb once may have held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.



James Cameron served as executive producer on the show. It has been directed by Simcha Jacobovici. The documentary, which will have its global television premier tomorrow (4 March), claims to present the latest evidence from experts in Aramaic script, ancient DNA analysis, forensics, archaeology and statistics



In India, the CSF had written to Discovery in New Delhi requesting it to refrain from broadcasting the feature. CSF argued that the show trivialises the credibility of the Bible and the Christian faith.



CSF secretary Joseph Dias was quoted in reports as stating that the show hurt religious sentiments in a pluralistic society and was an attempt to commercialise religion for selfish profit and commercial gains or cheap publicity.



With references to Jesus as a human being with a family; mentions of Judah as the secret offspring of Jesus through Mary Magdalene; a portrayal of Mathew, one of the writers of the Gospels, as a maternal relative of Jesus and a mention of the burial of Jesus' siblings in the same tomb, the CSF says the documentary attacks the basic tenets of Christianity.



While cancelling plans to telecast it in India, Discovery "expressed regret that the channel had inadvertently hurt religious sentiments of the Christian community". the CSF had threatened an agitation on the day of telecast and legal action if the channel went ahead with the telecast.



The CSF even sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers, including information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, demanding that the telecast be scrapped.



CSF is also looking to prevent the release of the book and DVD in the country.

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