POV: Ayn Rand excerpts on Religion
by Ayn Rand | 1988
The New Atheists
by The Editors | December 05, 2014
Religion in America
by The Editors | December 05, 2014
Religion vs. Freedom
by Onkar Ghate | December 03, 2014
Bernie Madoff, Steve Jobs, and Wall Street Greed
by Don Watkins | September 26, 2013
Abortion Rights Are Pro-life
by Leonard Peikoff | January 23, 2013
Capitalism without Guilt
by Yaron Brook | January 21, 2013
Does America Need Ayn Rand or Jesus?
by Onkar Ghate | June 29, 2011
The Guilt Pledge
by Don Watkins | September 22, 2010
Our Moral Code Is Out of Date
by Yaron Brook | September 16, 2010
Atlas Shrugged’s Timeless Moral: Profit-Making Is Virtue, Not Vice
by Yaron Brook | July 20, 2010
Commercialism Only Adds to Joy of the Holidays
by Onkar Ghate | December 18, 2009
No More Green Guilt
by Keith Lockitch | May 01, 2009
No “Footprint,” No Life
by Keith Lockitch | January 09, 2009
The Easter Masquerade
by Keith Lockitch | March 22, 2008
After Ten Years, States Still Resist Assisted Suicide
by Tom Bowden | November 02, 2007
It Isn’t Easy Being Green
by Keith Lockitch | October 16, 2007
The Road to 9/11: How America's Selfless Policies Unleashed the Jihadists
by Elan Journo | September 10, 2007
The Real Disgrace: Washington’s Battlefield “Ethics”
by Elan Journo | July 28, 2007
Atlas Shrugged — America's Second Declaration of Independence
by Onkar Ghate | March 01, 2007
Religion and Morality
by Onkar Ghate | October 18, 2006
The Jihad on America
by Elan Journo | Fall 2006
The Conservatives’ War on Birth Control
by Keith Lockitch | September 18, 2006
“Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense
by Yaron Brook | Spring 2006
The Twilight of Freedom of Speech
by Onkar Ghate | February 21, 2006
“Intelligent Design” Is about Religion versus Reason
by Keith Lockitch | December 11, 2005
Creationism in Camouflage: The “Intelligent Design” Deception
by Keith Lockitch | November 17, 2005
The Foreign Policy of Guilt
by Onkar Ghate | September 29, 2005
The Bait and Switch of “Intelligent Design”
by Keith Lockitch | August 04, 2005
The Faith-Based Attack on Rational Government
by Tom Bowden | June 27, 2005
The “Sin” of Pride
by Edwin Locke | May 18, 2005
Morality of War
by Yaron Brook | September 09, 2004
Council on Bioethics Antagonistic to Man’s Well-Being
by Elan Journo | April 08, 2004
A Passion Against Man
by Onkar Ghate | March 15, 2004
America vs. Americans
by Leonard Peikoff | April 21, 2003
“End States Who Sponsor Terrorism”
by Leonard Peikoff | October 02, 2001
Fact and Value
by Leonard Peikoff | May 18, 1989
On Moral Sanctions
by Peter Schwartz | May 18, 1989
Religious Terrorism vs. Free Speech
by Leonard Peikoff | 1989
Lexicon excerpts on Religion
by Ayn Rand | 1988
Religion vs. America
by Leonard Peikoff | 1986
The Sanction of the Victims
by Ayn Rand | November 21, 1981
The Age of Mediocrity
by Ayn Rand | April 26, 1981
The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age
by Ayn Rand | 1961


Culture And Society in Voice for Reason
Culture & SocietyReligion & Morality

A Passion Against Man

by Onkar Ghate | March 15, 2004

As The Passion of the Christ plays to near-record crowds, numerous critics and moviegoers report the film to be a transforming experience. Although many find themselves forced to turn away from the violence on screen, they say the blood-soaked depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion has an important purpose. We must be reminded of the enormous sacrifice that Christ has made for all of us.

In responding this way to the film, the audience is getting the message those responsible for the film intended. Jim Caviezel, the actor who plays Jesus, explains: “We’re all culpable in the death of Christ. My sins put him up there. Yours did. That’s what this story is about.” When Diane Sawyer asked the film’s director and cowriter, Mel Gibson, who killed Jesus, he replied, “The big answer is, we all did. I’ll be the first in the culpability stakes here.” And as if to leave no doubt that this is his considered view, Gibson’s only on-screen appearance in the film is in the form of the hands that drive the nails into Jesus’ body.

It is frightening that so evil a message could receive so welcome a reception.

When charges of anti-Semitism, denied by the producers, surrounded the film before its opening, there was outrage from many circles. But when the principals behind the film tell us openly that its message is that not only Jews but all men are implicated in the death of Jesus, the voices of moral outrage fall silent. (In what follows I leave aside the question of how successfully the film conveys its intended message.)

So, let us ask some questions no one is asking. Why is it immoral to ascribe guilt to all Jews, but not immoral to ascribe guilt to all mankind? How can anyone know, without first considering our specific choices and actions, that you or I are guilty? How can you or I be responsible for the death of a man killed some two thousand years ago? To make any sense of the accusation, one must recognize that one is here dealing with, albeit in a more sophisticated form, the same collectivist mentality as the racist’s. For the anti-Semite, to be Jewish is to be evil. For the devout Christian, to be human is to be evil.

The denunciation of man as a creature befouled by, in the words of St. Augustine, a “radical canker in the mind and will,” infuses the Christian tradition. Every essential attribute and virtue of man is attacked.

To possess an inquisitive mind, a mind eager to explore the world and gain knowledge, is to commit the first sin. Remember the story of Eve? To painstakingly study nature and unlock her laws, thereby paving the way for man’s mastery of his world, is to court imprisonment and torture. Ask Galileo or a scientist studying human cloning. To concern oneself with producing the wealth and material goods life requires, is to invite condemnations of “greed” and “materialism.” Read Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” To cherish the pleasures that the earth and one’s own body afford, including one’s sexual capacity, is to be denounced as “selfish” and even depraved. Consult the Puritans or the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. To take pride in one’s curiosity, in one’s growing knowledge of the world, in one’s successful actions in it, in the resulting joy and pleasure these bring — this is branded by all as the height of sin.

On this anti-man approach, to remain alive is to sin. To fully purge oneself, one must die. Only such an account of man can begin to explain the charge of collective guilt for the death of Christ, whose undeserved suffering at man’s vicious hands is, somehow, supposed to help alleviate our innately “sinful” nature.

If the anti-Semitic view of the Jewish race as inherently corrupt is irrational and evil, how much more irrational and evil is this view of the human race?

Will The Passion itself play a major role in spreading this conception of man’s nature? Of course not. But the audiences and acclaim the film is enjoying speak to just how prevalent this conception has already become. If there is an idea behind the film worth opposing, it is this, its intended message. Teach man to regard himself as a loathsome, despicable being, and he becomes ripe for any mystical dictator, who will wield the whip that is supposed to make man atone for his “transgressions.” Deprive man of self-esteem, teach him to spit in his face, and one paves the way for another Dark Ages.

But to oppose this conception of human nature, one must first come to understand that man — man at his best, man the rational, productive, selfish achiever — is a noble being.

About The Author

Onkar Ghate

Chief Philosophy Officer and Senior Fellow, Ayn Rand Institute