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COUNTRY STARS PRAISE "THE PASSION"

Mel Gibson's controversial new film, "The Passion," opens today, but many country stars have already seen the film when it was previewed at a private screening in Nashville a couple of months ago. While the movie has already spawned criticism, Sara Evans and Joe Diffie are just two of many performers who heaped praise on the graphic portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "It's extremely hard to watch, and extremely necessary to watch," says Sara on her website, saraevans.com. "Even in the unfinished state that I saw it in - I have never been so moved by a movie." Joe - who hadn't yet seen the film when asked about it - added, "I can't imagine not being moved. In seeing the trailers, I think 'Man, to think he did that for us. He could've called down angels and gotten the heck out of there.' I think [this movie] will give us all a deeper appreciation of what really went on. And at a time when buildings are falling out of the sky, it's a message of hope from 2,000 years ago that we can still take hold of."

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