Essay Contest Gives Youth a Voice in Interfaith Dialogue

December 25, 2004

Source: The Ithaca Journal

Wire Service: AP

On December 25, 2004 the Associated Press reported, "following Mel Gibson's film 'The Passion of the Christ,' which drew criticism that it contained destructive Christian stereotypes of Jews, an essay contest had been founded to promote understanding between the two faiths... The contest's founder, 25-year-old magazine heiress Elizabeth Goldhirsh, said she created the competition for people 16 to 22 in the wake of the movie; the aim was to try and develop some interfaith unity within the younger generation... Four-thousand entries came in, though what they showed was a surprising lack of familiarity with building interfaith relationships in general, said the Rev. Christopher Leighton, executive director of the Baltimore-based Institute of Christian & Jewish Studies and one of the contest's judges. The problem, Leighton said, was that many of the entrants -- particularly Christians -- thought the answer was to make the other side see the error of its ways, rather than to promote respect for differing theological points of view."