The Hyping Of Gibson's 'Passion'

Hot off the presses: The buzz of the Bible Belt has a million messengers. Christian print shops are producing "Passion of the Christ" leaflets to hang on the front door. There's an appeal for NASCAR fans to race to theaters.

"It may be one of the biggest opportunities in the last 2,000 years that we've had so far to really get our message across in a way that makes sense," said Daniel Southern with the American Tract Society.

With the help of news magazine cover stories, grassroots Web sites raising money to market the movie, and Christian groups gathering for sneak peaks, the free publicity mill has made movie missionaries, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara.

"We'll be showing it to 6,000 people on 20 screens," Dallas businessman Arch Bonnema said.

He spent $42,000 to give away tickets.

"I'm willing to do whatever I can to get as many people to see this as possible," he said.

"Your passion is what you will live for and is what you'll die for," said Dallas Pastor Jack Graham, with the Prestwood Baptist Church.

His church is one of many to personalize the production and prays that "Passion" will put people in his pews.

Media watchdog Ole Anthony says the movie's religion is right, but its marketing -- a mess.

"They're trying to put God in the spiritual supermarket. And try to market him like they do Madison Avenue -- it's a shame," he said.

But worried the movie portrays Jews as the killers of Christ, the Anti-Defamation League has appealed to the Vatican to tell Roman Catholics the movie is Mel Gibson's gospel, not the Bible's.

Martin Cominsky, of the Houston ADL said, "I don't think that people are gonna leave the movie with a mob mentality. I hope they won't. But I think that people -- it will reinforce anti-Semitic attitudes that they may have harbored."

Despite the controversy -- or profiting from it -- "Passion" is expected to be a box office boon of biblical proportions, putting Gibson's version of greatest story ever told in a league with the greatest ever sold.