There’s been much talk in the blogosphere about the upcoming release of The Golden Compass, a new film based on the children’s trilogy His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman–a known atheist. A chain email is rumored to have been passed around to thousands of parents encouraging them to not let their children see the movie’s supposed anti-religious themes. And the Catholic League will be conducting a two-month protest of the movie, claiming the book is “overt in its hatred of Catholicism.”
So what does Pullman have to say about his attempt to indoctrinate little children to the evilness that is atheism? Quite the opposite, actually. When asked if there was an underlying message promoting atheism in his books, Pullman stated:
As for the atheism, it doesn’t matter to me whether people believe in God or not, so I’m not promoting anything of that sort. What I do care about is whether people are cruel or whether they’re kind, whether they act for democracy or for tyranny, whether they believe in open-minded inquiry or in shutting the freedom of thought and expression. Good things have been done in the name of religion, and so have bad things; and both good things and bad things have been done with no religion at all. What I care about is the good, wherever it comes from.
Sure, Pullman has also stated in a 2003 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald that, “My books are about killing God.” While not the most ideal choice of words, there’s nothing wrong with what Pullman is doing. C.S. Lewis did the exact same thing in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe on behalf of Christianity (and you didn’t see atheists collectively protesting that movie when it came out two years ago).
What the Catholic League is attempting to do through its protest is equate atheism with immorality. (I find that funny, in light of the hundreds of Catholic clergy abuse cases going on in the world.) But I’m more offended that the Catholic League implies that atheism is dangerous to children. Pullman’s books, as the author has stated himself, promote intellectual curiosity. Let the kids decide for themselves.