“I hope the film has the power to evangelize.”

Mel Gibson on his upcoming movie The Passion, in front of a bunch of evangelicals nonetheless:

Wearing a gray shirt and black slacks, Gibson appeared on stage at New Life Church before the screening to address an audience of more than 800 ministers gathered for the Life Giving Leadership Conference, an annual event.

He was candid in relating how events more than a decade ago led him to become a more committed Christian.

“I’ve been pastor at New Life Church for 18 years, and I don’t remember anyone displaying a fear of God on our platform the way Mel did today,” Haggard said.

A Catholic, Gibson attended Mass every morning during shooting because “we had to be squeaky clean just working on this,” he said.

“It was a strange mixture of the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, along with this incredible ease,” Gibson said. “Everyone who worked on this movie was changed. There were agnostics and Muslims on set converting to Christianity.”

When Haggard thanked Gibson for making the film, Gibson said, “I was afraid not to.”

I don’t know what is more fascinating. Gibson’s demeanor, or the fact that if this had been a Catholic conference Mel would have been shooed out of the room. Such is my confidence in today’s American Catholic progressives.

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