Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

The Golden Compass: An attack on God?

This Christmas season there will be a new children’s movie out in December called The Golden Compass. [ IMDB | Trailer ]

The movie has been described as “atheism for kids” and is based on the first book of a trilogy entitled His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Pullman is a militant atheist and secular humanist (who describes himself as both an agnostic and an atheist) has said “I don’t profess any religion; I don’t this it’s possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality'” and despises C. S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia. His motivation for writing this trilogy was specifically to counteract Lewis’ symbolisms of Christ that are portrayed in the Narnia series.

Pullman actively pursues an anti-Christian agenda1 when interviewed was quoted “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”2 His objective is to bash Christianity and promote atheism.

Don’t take my word for it: Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that “my books are about killing God,” and has even stated that he wants to “kill God in the minds of children.” It has been said of Pullman that he is “the writer the atheists would be praying for, if atheists prayed.”

While The Golden Compass movie itself may seem mild and innocent, the books are a much different story.  In the trilogy, a young streetwise girl becomes enmeshed in an epic struggle to ultimately defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God.  Another character, an ex-nun, describes Christianity as “a very powerful and convincing mistake.” In the final book, characters representing Adam and Eve eventually kill God (who at times is called YAHWEH). Each book in the trilogy gets progressively worse regarding Pullman’s hatred of God and Jesus Christ.

The Golden Compass (staring Nicole Kidman, a Scientologist) is set to premier on December 7, during the Christmas season, and is being heavily advertised. Promoters hope that unsuspecting parents will take their children to see the movie, and that the children will want the much darker books for Christmas.

A Los Angeles Times article on the controversy noted:

[Pullman]’s never hidden his skepticism about God or his rejection of organized religion. A quick Internet search turns up a 2004 essay he wrote deploring “theocracies” for a newspaper in his native Britain, and his own Web site states that he thinks it “perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it.” “His Dark Materials” features a sympathetic character, an ex-nun, who describes Christianity as “a very powerful and convincing mistake,” while “The Amber Spyglass” concludes with the two child heroes participating in the dissolution of “the Authority,” a senile, pretender God who has falsely passed himself off as the creator of the universe.

Bill Donohoe, president of The Catholic League, has condemned The Golden Compass as a “pernicious” effort to indoctrinate children into anti-Christian beliefs and has produced a 23-page pamphlet titled The Golden Compass: Unmasked in which he maintains that Pullman “sells atheism for kids.”  Donohoe told interviewer John Gibson on 9 October 2007 why he believes Christians should stay away from the film:

Look, the movie is based on the least offensive of the three books. And they have dumbed down the worst elements in the movie because they don’t want to make Christians angry and they want to make money. Our concern is this, unsuspecting Christian parents may want to take their kid to the movie, it opens up December 7th and say, this wasn’t troubling, then we’ll buy the books. So the movie is the bait for the books which are profoundly anti-Catholic and at the same time selling atheism.

Other reviewers, however, have described Pullman’s works as being more generally anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Christian or anti-Catholic:

In His Dark Materials, Pullman’s criticisms of organized religion come across as anti-authoritarian and anti-ascetic rather than anti-doctrinal. (Jesus isn’t mentioned in any of the books, although Pullman has hinted that He might figure in a forthcoming sequel, The Book of Dust.) His fundamental objection is to ideological tyranny and the rejection of this world in favor of an idealized afterlife, regardless of creed. As one of the novel’s pagan characters puts it, “Every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling.”

Pass this information along to everyone you know (especially church leaders) and help to educate parents, so that they will know the agenda of the movie.

(Verified by Snopes)





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6 Responses

  1. Stealth123 says:

    And here I thought The Golden Compass was more senseless eyecandy from Hollywood. Congratulations to Mr. Pullman for making such an important statement knowing the backlash and vitriol he is in for. The thing is, the points he makes in his quotes about religion are more or less undebatable. The only offense one could take from this movie can be summarized in one sentence: “He has a logically consistent belief that is opposed to mine, therefore I need to complain about it!”. I have been prosthelized to in my youth by random strangers on the street. I once made friend who turned out to be primarily interested in me for my soul; after being taken to his youth group, “witnessed to” and even allowed to play jesus in some lame skit, I felt dirty and never talked to the guy again. Considering this, I see nothing wrong with someone making a movie that might expose kids to a logical way of thinking about mankind’s silly obsession with old mythology. At least he doesn’t invent some cruel though-control scheme that forces them to fear not being atheists. Scientology sucks, too.

  2. Joe says:


    I’ll agree with your sentiment that The Golden Compass is “more senseless eyecandy [sic] from Hollywood”. No argument there.

    Further, I believe it’s a fundamental human right that we have the freedom to express ourselves (speech, press, ‘blogs, comments, etc.) and a freedom to practice their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

    Where we differ in opinions is that I’m not complaining about Mr. Pullman’s beliefs, his books, or the movie due out any day now.

    You made the very good point that you were “prosthelized [sic] in [your] youth by random strangers on the street” and even by a friend who was “primarily interested in [you] for [your] soul. You felt “dirty and never talked to the guy again” because he had an another motive, one that you didn’t know about, and one that if you had known about it, you probably would have avoided him and his friendship. Correct?

    I have no qualms with Scientologists, atheists, or agnostics. I have no issues with their beliefs, although I do not share them.

    The same is my point here: Pullman is self-admittedly doing exactly what your friend did to you, drawing you in by some premise but holding a hidden agenda once he’s got your attention.

    The purpose of this post was to educate people (parent, church leaders, etc.) about the hidden agenda behind the movie. If parents still choose to take their children to the movie after having been educated to Pullman’s motives that’s their choice.

    Thank you for your comments and opinions!

  3. Mindy Weldon says:

    I took my 14 year old to see the movie, who is also reading the book. She thinks it is wonderful and I liked the movie. I do not subscribe to organized religion. I think that people may be jumping the gun. If kids can gleen out of the movie what the critics are saying, then they need to go ahead and be admitted to Harvard or Oxford Universities because they are brillian. Also, unless you are familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church, you would not have a clue about the symbolism in the movie. I would not recommend it for a child younger than 10 just because some of the scenes may frighten some children. But I talked at length with my kid and she said she saw alot of love and realized that organized religion is mind control. The movie mentioned free will, isnt that what Christians teach?

  4. Joe says:

    @Mindy Weldon,

    You’re partially correct, Mindy. The book is very subtle with its “propaganda,” which, according to the author, is to be more acceptable to the Judeo-Christian populous. The movie is even less “offensive” and “dumbed down” for the general public.

    Once the reader (or movie viewer) is caught up in the story they will want to read the books which go along with the story, which get progressively “darker” and strive to “kill a senile God” in the books. The series is called “His Dark Materials.”

    Yes Christians do teach free will. It’s the same free will that teaches us to be sceptical about things around us, and to question, research, and educate ourselves.

    It’s that same free will, that same analytical thinking that allows us — that encourages us — to look beyond the surface of a message (in a book, a movie, even a person) and see what the true message is…

    Once that message is known, an appropriate action (or inaction) can be taken. In this case, my conclusion was to spread the word about the author’s stated intentions to a wider audience, and let that audience decide for themselves whether or not to watch it and read the books.

    I do, however, value your opinion, and especially your recommendation about the age-appropriateness of the movie.

    Thanks for stopping by, Mindy! I hope to see you back here again voicing your views on future articles! 🙂

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