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CULTURE DIGEST: ‘Passion’ DVD tops 4 million on first day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“The Passion of the Christ” was released on DVD Aug. 31, and by noon sales had reached 2.4 million copies. First-day sales totals were tallied at 4.1 million.

“Finding Nemo,” an animated film, holds the record for one-day DVD sales with about 8 million.

The Passion became the most surprising blockbuster of 2004 when it was released in theaters last February, and the film grossed more than $370 million in ticket sales — making it second this year to “Shrek 2,” another animated film. Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the last 12 hours of Christ’s life could become one of the few R-rated movies to join the list of the 10 top-selling DVDs.

Customers who bought advance copies of the film made it the top-selling DVD on websites such as walmart.com and amazon.com, according to The New York Times. Twentieth Century Fox, which is distributing the DVD, has marketed the product to church groups after observing the huge success among that demographic with the theater release. Fox has offered churches the opportunity to purchase the DVD in bulk for mass distribution.

The Times reported the results of a survey conducted by Family Christian Stores, which found that 47.8 percent of the 5,000 customers questioned said they planned to buy The Passion for use in sharing their faith. Three-quarters of respondents said they planned to use it to aid their own spiritual growth, The Times said.

BAPTIST CHURCH OUSTS 165 MEMBERS — Gardendale Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, removed 165 members from its church roll after they voted against affirming the pastor’s leadership.

Becoming frustrated with the “gossip, rumors, slander and secret meetings” of those who opposed his actions at the church, pastor Micah Davidson sent a letter to the congregation explaining that a vote would be held during a mid-July business meeting to affirm or denounce his leadership of the church, according to a report by the Southern Baptist Texan.

Davidson said in the letter that he would leave immediately if voted down, but if not, then those who voted against him would lose their membership at the church.

Some church members had become upset with the way Davidson was leading the church, including his decisions to stop holding regular business meetings, hire new pastors without the consent of members, and to stop holding Sunday evening and Wednesday night services.

John Gilbert, Gardendale’s administrative pastor, told the Texan the entire staff was ready to resign if Davidson was fired. He also said the church hopes to restore the members who were removed if they will agree to a membership covenant that includes striving to protect the congregation’s unity.

“I really anticipate a good number will be back,” Gilbert said.

ALICE COOPER CALLS PRO-KERRY ROCKERS TRAITORS — Rock legend Alice Cooper has said he was disgusted to learn that musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, R.E.M, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor and Dave Matthews were organizing a series of concerts aimed at stopping President Bush’s re-election.

“To me, that’s treason,” Cooper told the Canadian Press, according to WorldNetDaily.com Aug. 24. “I call it treason against rock ‘n’ roll because rock is the antithesis of politics. Rock should never be in bed with politics.”

Cooper, who says he is a born-again Christian and recently received an honorary doctorate from a Christian university in Phoenix, also said rock stars should not be regarded as authorities on politics.

“If you’re listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are,” he said. “Why are we rock stars? Because we’re morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal.

“Besides,” Cooper added, “when I read the list of people who are supporting Kerry, if I wasn’t already a Bush supporter, I would have immediately switched. Linda Ronstadt? Don Henley? Geez, that’s a good reason right there to vote for Bush.”

GOV. HUCKABEE LEADS OBESITY BATTLE — Mike Huckabee, the Republican governor of Arkansas and a former Southern Baptist pastor, was featured in USA Today this summer for a remarkable health feat: losing 105 pounds in one year.

In making the Healthy Arkansas initiative a priority for his last two years in office, he said he is more confident about telling people to watch their weight now that he is practicing what he preaches.

Arkansas ranks as one of the unhealthiest states in the country each year, USA Today noted, and Huckabee believes encouraging people to exercise more, watch what they eat and quit smoking is a way to get control of state healthcare costs.

A year ago, Huckabee was diagnosed with diabetes, the report said. In search of a solution to his weight problem, Huckabee enrolled in a weight-loss program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, which requires patients to keep a liquid diet of nutrition supplements before being reintroduced to healthy eating.

Huckabee, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate, followed the diet and added regular exercise such as walking, running and weightlifting, and his doctors have recently pronounced him free of any signs of diabetes.

ZAVOS CLAIMS TO CLONE DEAD PEOPLE — Panos Zavos is still at it. The Kentucky-based physiologist now says he has created embryonic clones of two dead people, according to United Press International.

Zavos, who has been a leader in the push for human cloning and has marketed a “home gender selection kit” to help couples control the sex of their babies, said he took DNA from the bodies of an 11-year-old girl and a 33-year-old man, both of whom died in car accidents, and implanted it into living cow eggs. The eggs then divided to form embryos.

The experiment, Zavos said, indicates DNA from a human corpse could be implanted into a human egg in order to develop a true clone of a dead person.

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  • Erin Curry