Is The Golden Compass pro-atheism? Is it particularly anti-Catholic?
I’d never heard of the Golden Compass books until recently and was hardly intrigued by a trailer for the “movie version,”:http://www.goldencompassmovie.com/ which opens tomorrow. Something about a talking white bear.
But the books by author Philip Pullman, an avowed atheist, have a large and loyal following. From what I understand, the story revolves around a big institutional bad guy called the Magisterium, which is run by bishops.
So the anti-Catholic charge seems to have some legs.
Now, the movie version apparently removes the religious references, making the bad guy into an anonymous big business-type. But the “Catholic League’s”:http://www.catholicleague.org/release.php?id=1365 Bill Donohue has stirred a ruckus (yes, he’s good at that) by suggesting that the movie will draw kids to the anti-religion, anti-Catholic books.
And it will do so at Christmas time.
“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s PullmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trilogy, not the film, that really sells atheism to kids,Ã¢â‚¬? he says.
A Catholic school board in Ontario just “pulled the books”:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071128.wfaithgoldencompass/BNStory/specialComment/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20071128.wfaithgoldencompass out of its library after learning of their message.
Jumping on Donohue’s theme, the “Christian Post”:http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071031/29901_Christian_Groups_Claim_Religion-Purged_’Golden_Compass’_Movie_Promotes_Pro-Atheism_Books.htm reports:
A movie based on a book that portrays the Church as the villain is not receiving much applause for its removal of religious references.
On the contrary, some Christian groups are upset over New Line CinemaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s concerted effort to keep religion and godless themes out of the upcoming movie, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Golden Compass,Ã¢â‚¬? claiming it will encourage children to read a series that promotes atheism and Ã¢â‚¬Å“denigrates Christianity.Ã¢â‚¬?
The “American Humanist Association,”:http://www.americanhumanist.org/press/GoldenCompass2.php meanwhile, says that the movie is openly (and rightly) opposed to religious authority. A spokesman, Fred Edwords, says:
In fact, there’s nothing ‘stealthy’ about the movie’s message at all. Rather, it’s a direct and plain-spoken argument in opposition to religious and secular tyranny and it forthrightly favors freethinking, human nature, and science.
Let’s see how the Golden Compass does at the box office. If it disappoints, we probably won’t hear much about this again. But if it does well (and a line of “evil religious authority” action figures comes out), we sure will.