Leda Beth Vincent lives in the small town of Shiloh and works as a cocktail waitress there. She is not too well thought of as she is nothing of a blushing virgin. But she is far from a whore and brings up her daughter Julie, a high school student, as a loving responsible mother. So, when she becomes aware that Julie's very popular history teacher, Mr Baker, spreads antisemitic ideas among his pupils, Leda Beth decides to ask Mr Baker for an explanation. But she comes up against a wall. Nobody in town - Julie less than all others - wants to support her and it looks as if she will have to bring the Board of Education to court. The trouble is that a school dropout and a tramp of her kind does not count for much compared to the holders of knowledge and of morality.
Jesus (Willem Dafoe), a humble Judean carpenter beginning to see that he is the son of God, is drawn into revolutionary action against the Roman occupiers by Judas (Harvey Keitel) -- despite his protestations that love, not violence, is the path to salvation.
Thanks to an untimely demise via drowning, a young couple end up as poltergeists in their New England farmhouse, where they fail to meet the challenge of scaring away the insufferable new owners, who want to make drastic changes.