By August 1988 almost 8,000 pickets had formed around the studio offices, security measures were instituted, and bodyguards were accompanying even minor Universal executives. The level of heat as rising as the level of light and reason declined precipitously. A measure of the controversy's effect on Scorsese may be found in the fact that his autobiography, Scorsese on Scorsese, contains the best summaries of the madness engulfing the film. Scorsese was at the center of a firestorm and was badly burned.
A few examples may indicate the sad direction the fray took. Reverend Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, which garnered 60,000 new members during its campaign against The Last Temptation of Christ, picketed Lew Wasserman's home, preaching loudly on the doorstep of the Jewish chairman of MCA, Universal's parent corporation. Wildmon then wrote Sid Sheinberg, the Jewish president of MCA, demanding to know "How many Christians are there in the top positions of MCA/Universal? How many Christians sit on the board of directors of MCA?" (Gabler, 108). Reverend R.L. Hymes joined in this anti-Semitic onslaught, staging Passion plays outside Wasserman's home as pickets carried signs charging that "Wasserman fans Jew-hatred with Temptation."