Don't push Passion Play, US forces in Europe told

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Defense officials ordered the American forces in Europe to stop promoting the Oberammergau Passion Play in West Germany, after protests by a major US Jewish organization that it was anti-Semitic, Monitor correspondent John Cooley reports.

"We don't want to be associated with controversial and sectarian events like religious festivals," said a spokesman for Maj. Gen. R. Dean Tice, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

General Tice ordered the Armed Forces Recreation Center in Europe to stop conducted bus tours and other promotion of the summer pageant, which deals with the life and passion of Jesus. However, official US agencies and ticket concessionaires such as the American Express Company were still permitted to sell tickets, the spokesman said.

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In his order, General Tice termed the pageant "an admittedly sectarian religious play . . . considered by some to portray an anti-Semitic tone." The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith had protested that the play was anti- Jewish, partly because its English translation from the original German indicated the Jewish people as a whole were implicated in Jesus' death.

Two league officials, Theodore Freedman and Nat Kameny, attended a special preview of this summer's play at Oberammergau, where German officials and Roman Catholic theologians asked them for "further written criticism in greater detail ," a league statement said.

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