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Air Force Cadets Scolded Over ‘Passion’

March 4, 2004

DENVER (AP) _ Air Force Academy commanders admonished cadets for using academy e-mail to tout Mel Gibson’s movie about the crucifixion of Jesus.

In an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press, Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa said the cadets’ use of an academy e-mail distribution list to encourage people to see ``The Passion of the Christ″ was inappropriate.

``When you put on your uniform, you do not have to leave your faith or religious convictions behind,″ Rosa wrote. ``Nonetheless, we all need to be sensitive and considerate toward those who may not share our beliefs.″

He also admonished cadets for displaying fliers for the movie in the cafeteria, according to the e-mail sent Wednesday.

At least one academy graduate complained to Rosa that the students’ e-mail was insensitive to cadets who are not Christians, Academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker said. He added that the action violated rules against product endorsements.

Whitaker said he did not know exactly how many cadets were involved.

The movie, which grossed $23.6 million on its opening day Wednesday, is based on Gospel accounts of the last hours of the life of Jesus. Some have praised Gibson’s commitment to his subject. Others have called the movie excessively bloody and unfair in its portrayal of Jews.

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