Religious leaders representing 25 churches announced Wednesday that they will urge their congregations to boycott a Ventura theater complex that last week began showing the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ."
"We have no ax to grind and there's no personal vendetta against anyone. We just object to the overall tone of the film," said Gary Archer, pastor of the First Assembly of God Church in Ventura.
At a Ventura press conference, church leaders denounced the film and castigated Syufy Enterprises, the San Francisco-based firm that owns the Century 8 Theatres in Ventura, where the movie opened Friday.
Syufy representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Group spokesman John W. Huffman said Syufy had earlier assured religious leaders that it would not bring "The Last Temptation of Christ" to Ventura County.
'Sneaked Into Town'
"It kind of sneaked into town," said Archer, who added that church members picketed the movie last weekend.
Several church leaders said they will continue the boycott until Syufy agrees to donate all profits from the Ventura screenings of the film to a local homeless group. Others said they might be satisfied if Syufy agrees to stop showing the film.
Conservative religious groups nationwide have protested "The Last Temptation of Christ," saying it depicts Jesus Christ in a blasphemous way by portraying him as confused and misguided. They especially object to a scene in which Jesus fantasizes a love affair with Mary Magdalen.
Those assembled Wednesday said none of them had seen the film. Instead, they said they relied on the opinions of other church leaders whom they trusted and respected.
Meanwhile, two Ventura churches--Church of the Foothills (United Church of Christ) and First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)--are planning outings to see the film so they can then discuss and evaluate it.