The War on “The Golden Compass”

While many on the Right are busy telling everyone to go see the new film “Bella,” a God-friendly “moral masterpiece” said to be the “next Passion of the Christ,” others are busy attacking the forthcoming film “The Golden Compass” because the author of the series of books upon which it is based is reportedly an outspoken atheist:

[Sophia] Sproule sees “The Golden Compass” and the other books in Mr. Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy as a source of concern for Catholic parents, describing the books’ negative portrayal of God and the church as potentially damaging to the spiritual well-being of young readers.

“[Philip] Pullman, an outspoken atheist and critic of religion, offers in these novels a vitriolic denunciation of religious faith in general, especially of Christianity and most pointedly of the Catholic Church (a version of it, anyway),” Miss Sproule said.

“Whether or not one believes that ‘mere fiction’ should be cause for alarm, the simple truth is that to enter into a fantasy realm is to accept the world presented on its own terms,” she said, adding that the Pullman books represent “not merely a wholesale rejection of religion — it is an invitation to reject God.”

In what comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody, the opposition is being driven mainly by Bill Donohue:

Pullman’s work, says William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, promotes an atheist agenda that is profoundly anti-Church.

True, he hasn’t seen the movie, which comes out Dec. 7, and he has little reason to doubt the filmmakers’ claims that it considerably waters down the book’s more controversial aspects. But the possibility that the movie could persuade some unsuspecting parents to buy the book for their children makes him furious.

“It’s selling the virtues of atheism,” Donohue says over the phone from the league’s New York office. “The real person we want to get on this is Pullman. I don’t want to see these books flying off the shelves at Christmas. I want them to be collecting dust.”

And, as if to demonstrate that there is just no pleasing him, Donohue is even upset that the studio has reportedly watered down some of the book’s atheist themes:  

But the removal of the Godless themes from the movie has some Christian organizations seething.

“They’re intentionally watering down the most offensive element,” Donohue said. “I’m not really concerned about the movie, [which] looks fairly innocuous. The movie is made for the books. … It’s a deceitful, stealth campaign. Pullman is hoping his books will fly off the shelves at Christmastime.”

Since Donohue’s entire career is based on intimidating those with whom he disagrees, it is entirely predictable that he would go after someone like Pullman for daring to produce something that does not reflect his own views on religion and the Catholic Church.  

But if you thought that efforts to “water down” the “offensive” elements would at least please him, you don’t know much about Bill Donohue.