A new documentary featuring Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in The Holy Land and following the footsteps of Jesus has drawn angry reaction from bombing victims in Northern Ireland.
Adams states that the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are the basis of what he says are "the Jesus message" of mercy and forgiveness.
"The one thing I have always liked about Jesus is his lack of condemnation and his lack of denunciation: the way he mixed with all the wrong people," Adams says. "And the way that, although he sets out rules for life, he knows we are imperfect and we are not going to do it. So he gives us another chance, and another chance and another chance."
The documentary, "The Bible; A History" being shown next week has been made by Channel 4 in Britain and was condemned by Victor Barker who lost his 12-year-old son to a dissident IRA bomb in 1988 at Omagh. "It's a big mistake and completely misguided," said Barker. "It is offering Adams a platform for doing what he does so well, of coming across on camera as a genuine, peaceful person who wants to promote peace and love.”
Adams tells the program, "Sometimes I was in tune with the Jesus message and sometimes not, "in the documentary filmed in Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
"I am not a pacifist and I don't believe that non-violent protest would have got justice in Ireland, but I do know that after decades of war, we all have plenty to forgive and to be forgiven for," he says. "I don't for one second step back from my responsibility as a leader of a struggle that has caused both hurt and damage to other human beings."
Adams says he picks and chooses form the bible as best he can to find his own personal Jesus. "You might not be right to do it, but you do it. We are not perfect and we do our best. If there is no one out there, pushing for a peaceful and democratic resolution, then, as night follows day, you will get people who resort to arms" he says
In the program Adams comes face to face with Alan McBride, who lost both his wife and his father-in-law in the Shankill Road bombing of 1993. The two talk about forgiveness and the violence that killed more than 3,000 people. "I don't think it was worth one of those lives," McBride tells Adams. "I think we need to be more like Jesus and yet less religious, if that is not a contradiction."
Adams praises McBride for his conciliatory stance. "Those who can find it in themselves to do what you are, I think, are probably more true to what is the Jesus message.
Adams says he is perfectly at peace "My service to my country and to the peace process is to bring other people with me," he argues. "I believe I have made mistakes and done things wrong. Not for a second do I stand over everything I ever did, or said, and think every thing was always right."
He also says Barabas, the prisoner released by Pontius Pilate, was probably an insurrectionist or modern-day "terrorist". "From someone else's viewpoint he might well have been a freedom fighter."
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