My Moral Compass is Golden

His Dark Materials trilogy. Buy at Powell's.

His Dark Materials trilogy. Buy at Powell’s.

Fundie propaganda site One News Now reports that the Catholic League is in a snit about the forthcoming movie The Golden Compass, which will be released on December 7. It’s based on the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy by evil atheist Philip Pullman. I haven’t read these books, but I just ordered them. They look like interesting reads.

The One News Now article tells us:

The Catholic League has kicked off a two-month campaign against a children’s fantasy film that features a young girl on a mission to kill God.

And this is a problem how?

Actually, I’m being flippant here. I don’t know how accurately that characterizes the film. Summarizing a movie like this in one sentence is probably oversimplifying it, which does not benefit the reader in trying to determine whether the film is worth seeing or avoiding.

New Line Cinema officials said they did not include many Godless themes, found in the books, in an effort to not offend Christians.

So the movie isn’t anti-Christian, but we’re supposed to ban it anyway?

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League is concerned that the movie could cause unsuspecting parents to get the books for their children.

Well that part of his concern is legitimate. I hate it when the movie is completely different from the book.

Parents shouldn’t buy books for their children that run in opposition to their beliefs. However, they shouldn’t freak out when Johnny and Jane check the books out of the library. If the parents’ faith is so fragile that it can’t withstand a couple of questions raised in a children’s book, then just what sort of feeble, anemic beliefs do they have?

“This is pernicious,” he continues. “This is selling atheism to kids, and it’s doing it in a backdoor fashion.”

But it’s perfectly OK to sell theism to kids. To brainwash them from an early age with all of the nasty content of the Bible.

In interviews, Pullman has stated that he wrote the series in response to C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. He said he hates the Narnia books and wants to undermine Christianity.

I tried to find proof that Pullman made these statements. I can’t find any. Of course it’s asking too much for One News Now to cite their sources.

The article finishes with:

Read the OneNewsNow review of the movie, “Does The Golden Compass point to a new atheism?”

Sure! We haven’t read enough fear yet today. Let’s check out the review, written by Rebecca Grace:

It all started with a phone call I received several months ago. … Several more phone calls followed the first one as did a plethora of emails expressing disgust over this movie — and rightly so.

OOO! It’s so disgusting!

I plan to review the movie, but I haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet.

Wait a minute! This was billed as a review! You haven’t even seen it? Typical fundie. She forms her opinion on something she hasn’t even seen. She just knows it’s disgusting!

According to, leading atheist writers and intellectuals are engaged in a “scientific” quest to ultimately destroy organized religion, particularly Christianity.

Really? Where’s your proof? Oh, that’s right! You don’t need proof! You’re quoting a fundie propaganda site! There is no scientific quest to destroy religion. Many of us would like to see its influence diminish, but there is no agenda to wipe it out. defines the Out Campaign as “a movement started by Dawkins to encourage Americans to proudly display their atheism.”

So how is that trying to destroy religion? We’re just trying to let you fundies know that there are a lot more of us than you think. Oh, that’s right. You religious nuts don’t want to know that. You’re afraid of knowledge. That’s why you burn books and ban movies. In fact, the very (apple) core of your religion is based on the premise that some knowledge is too much for your puny brains, so you should not partake of it.

The Blasphemy Challenge targets teens while an upcoming movie that may have a similar agenda is likely to appeal to families, especially children.

Oh no! Now they’re targeting the chillun!

From watching the trailer, it’s easy to see that the film has a C.S. Lewis/Narnia feel to it, but don’t be deceived.

Deception. The tactic of Satan!

“I don’t know whether there’s a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say,” Pullman said in an interview posted on his website.

Therefore, without yet seeing the film, at least one pro-family group — the American Family Association — is alerting Christians to the potential dangers of The Golden Compass.

There’s another fundie group condemning something they haven’t seen. And where do they get off calling themselves “pro-family”? People who hold views contrary to theirs are not anti-family!

Because of Pullman’s clearly articulated anti-Christian motives,…

How is saying that nobody can know whether God exists “anti-Christian”?

…AFA is warning all viewers to run from the film.

Wow. They’re not merely telling them to not see the film, they’re telling them to “Run! Run for you lives! If it touches you, you’ll have atheist cooties!”

24 Responses to “My Moral Compass is Golden”

  1. Arkonbey Says:

    Personally, what I find strange is that, while there’s a firestorm of controversy of Pullman’s atheist overtones in the book, many people are ignoring the fact that it is not a very good book.

    It reminds me of The Satanic Verses (another not-that-good book that was over-reacted to) in that its irreverent story is so much its driving force that conventions like storytelling and characters become lost.

    The His Dark Materials Trilogy starts off well-paced, creating intriguing characters and placing them in an interesting world that really ramps up the curiosity. Then it bogs itself down in a mire of ancillary characters and slow pacing. The second book was even worse, and I gave up within three chapters.

    If I’m looking for complex, engaging young-adult fantasy, I’ll stick to Johnathan Stroud and Garth Nix.


  2. GodlessHeathen Says:

    I read about half of The Golden Compass and found it so badly written I couldn’t continue. However, as long as there isn’t a nice, Christian slant put on it like The Davinci Code (another stunning example of literary prowess) it’ll be a nice change.

  3. Matt Stocum Says:

    If Donahue is characterizing the books as, “[featuring] a young girl on a mission to kill God,” he obviously hasn’t read them. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read the books, but that’s not at all the central theme or even accurate. I also must disagree with Arkonbey about the quality of His Dark Materials. I thoroughly enjoyed the books and am re-reading The Golden Compass right now so I can be properly indignant at what they leave out of the movies.

  4. ParrotLover77 Says:

    Well, the good news is that even if the book is bad, maybe the movie will be good? Afterall, when you only have 80 to 110 minutes to tell your “epic” the ancillary characters that Arkonbey mentions will probably get the axe on the cutting room floor (if they even get that far). I know, I know… I’m hoping for too much. Just the premise of the story sounds intriguing, although I haven’t read the books and after the slew of bad reviews I keep finding on the internets, I don’t know if I want to. I hope it’s not just a campaign against the author because he’s atheist/agnostic. That’s prejudice. Curious to see if Bay of Fundie will post a review when he’s done.

    Either way, this whole thing is very simple. The fact is that in the USA we are allowed to believe, or not believe, in whatever deity we choose. We are also allowed to read whatever book we want and watch whatever show we want. Atheists didn’t make a stink about the awful Narnia movie. So theists should not feel so threatened by a movie that, even admitted by the studios, is already censored to the point of not even containing any atheistic references! Basically what they are saying is that they don’t want no “stinking atheists” creating media that can be consumed by the public.

    I bet it would absolutely kill them to find out that George Carlin, voice of several children’s characters in several children’s animated movies, is an atheist who, at least at one point in his career, challenged God to strike him down on stage on multiple occassions. God didn’t and now he’s old and still an atheist. Where’s the outrage and boycotting of the evil satanic messages of the hippie van in the movie Cars?

    And lastly, isn’t the protaganist’s quest to destroy the “god” of the multiverse (I read the “cliffs notes” at wikipedia) analogous to simply overthrowing a “false god” since he can be overthrown by a mortal? Shouldn’t Christians be happy that the point of this trilogy is to remove, well, the devil pretending to be god?

  5. Arkonbey Says:

    ParrotLover- I’m with you. I don’t hold out hope that the movie will be good, but it just might. I mean, armored bears are just plain cool.

    I think the one of the reasons that atheists didn’t complain about Narnia was that we are able to see it from different angles: a Jesus myth, a rousing fantasy story, a story of hope and redemption, etc.

    You have a good point here: “Shouldn’t Christians be happy that the point of this trilogy is to remove, well, the devil pretending to be god?”

    Also, George C. was once quoted as saying he hates children. Go figure.

  6. ausyoyo Says:

    Anything that sets itself up as a challenge to the awful Narnia movie is worth a viewing. My atheist daughters thought the Narnia tosh was even worse than the latest Star Wars crap.

  7. ericsan Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, this looks interesting. The theme is vaguely reminiscent of the excellent British miniseries The Second Coming by Russell T. Davies starring Christopher Eccleston (both of “new Doctor Who” fame). I don’t think it ever aired in the US (it’s probably too controversial for even HBO or Showtime). Check it out when you get a chance.

  8. Brian Says:

    If this movie even does half of what Christians are afraid it’ll do, then I hope they protest the bejesus out of it. By all means, draw as much attention to it as you can. Make people curious about the movie and the books. Look how well that worked against The DaVinci Code. I can’t wait to see their planned outrage when Bill Maher’s explicitly anti-religion movie comes out next Easter. In the meantime, I think it’s been a while since I’ve taken my kids to the movies, so I think maybe this Golden Compass sounds like a winner. I’ve never heard of it before now, so thanks, fundies!

  9. ParrotLover77 Says:

    Good point, Brian. I watched the trailer, messed around on the website, spent time on Wikipedia learning about the books… Their protesting has done more to get me excited about seeing it than any of the tv ads or myspace ads or whatever ever would! It also didn’t hurt that the personality test they have on the website told me my daemon was a bird (the crow). Hell of a coincidence to give the bird lover a spirit animal that’s a bird! lol

  10. Bacopa Says:

    Hey; The Daemon Selector at the film’s website gave me an ocelot. I love cats. I have two permanent cats and have fostered a few through a cat rescue group. The ocelot is guarded, intelligent, and loyal to its trusted few just like me. And ocelots are native to Texas, which is where I live.

    I’ve been a fan of the books almost since they first came out. Sure, they muddle up a bit in the second two, but they’re still good. I would also recommend Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series. It’s about as pseudo-Victorian hardboiled as it gets.

  11. arensb Says:

    a children’s fantasy film that features a young girl on a mission to kill God

    I suppose that’s true enough, in the same way that Lord of the Rings is “A midget sets out to throw a ring into a volcano” and Casablanca is “Paul Henreid and Ingrid Bergman need visas to leave town.”

    Unlike some of the other commenters, I liked the Dark Materials books. In comparison to the Harry Potter books, at least, they’re better written, and the world is more original and better developed.

  12. Steve Says:

    The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights) won the ‘Carnegie of Carnegies’. The final book in the trilogy won the prestigious Whitbread prize, becoming the first children’s book to do so, and the trilogy sold over 15 million copies on its way.

    To call it “badly written” (as apposed to “not to my taste…”) is more a reflection of your reading comprehension than anything else.

    To then describe The Satanic Verses as a “not that good book” after Rushdie pioneered an entirely new genre, which is currently thriving, is beyond absurd. Although awards obviously don’t tell the entire story, winning the ‘Booker of Bookers’ is no mean feat.

    “Over my head” would be more appropriate next time.

  13. Patrick Roberts Says:

    the idea that anything can be “anti-god” is funny, it’s like saying, “i’m going to stop thinking about GOD right now, no God, no God, i am not thinking about God!” this book is kindof like that. I’ve heard that the book is well written, almost enchanting to read, but isn’t any major novel going to be well written? and aren’t the majority of movies these days inherently against Christian values? hmmm more at

  14. Laura Says:

    I found your site after I did a search for “pro Golden Compass” after receiving an “OT – Golden Compass WARNING!” message on a yahoo group I’m on. From the yahoo group: “The principle aim of this list is to provide a discussion forum for parents of children on the autism spectrum who are avoiding gluten and casein and other substances in their children’s diets.” And some yahoo, in the true sense of the word decided to warn all of us other parents about this evil movie, on a site devoted to diet and nutrition. Jesus, save me now. Just kidding. Like George C., when I’m having a bad day, I often call upon God to please strike me dead, but no luck so far.

    I hope the anti-Golden Compass fervor buys the movie lots of publicity and the “evil atheist” Philip Pullman lots of royalties.

    Laura, the agnostic, because, as no one can prove there’s a god, they also can’t prove there isn’t one, so I must be as accurate as possible.

  15. Ron Britton Says:


    I’m glad you found the site. Your experience in the autism group is exactly the reason I started this blog. It’s fine that the fundies have their opinions and discuss it among themselves. It’s even fine if they want to mention those opinions to the rest of us, as long as it’s done in the appropriate time and places. It frequently isn’t.

    BTW, there’s nothing wrong with being agnostic. I considered myself one for years. I converted to the atheist label when I finally realized that atheists don’t claim there’s no god. That’s a mischaracterization created by the religious. An atheist merely says that there’s no evidence for a god.

  16. James Matthews Says:

    I agree. my dad is a school teacher @ a cholthic school. A person who i wont mention gave him all this papers on what was “wrong” with the books.
    I read all the books and i loved them. so with my knolage of the book found 18 errors in that packet like they are on a quest to kill God, thats not true,
    I hope with the next movie The Subtle Knife is boycotted so that people well go to c what is wrong and give more money to pullman.
    you are right the athist did not boycott narnia ( worst movie ever)
    I hope everyone reads the books because there amazing

  17. James Matthews Says:

    sorry i cant spell

  18. Michael Says:

    No worries James. I can’t write due to a tremor. Life happens.

    I love the books. Cannot wait to see the movie, and hope they have managed to engage the magic in the books.

    Always wondered why nobody has pointed out the similarities between the Potter rage and the Ursula LeGuin books of at least 15 years earlier. Hmmm, off subject.

    Always challenge, always ask and always attempt to see the other side. Celebrate our diversity, rather than dictate to others what they should think. My 2 cents.

    Read the books. They are excellent. And my nine year old was so excited that when she did the test on the movie site her deamon was a snow leopard she was speechless. Which is saying something. I got a chimpanzee. Which she found hilarious.

    Can’t we all relax and enjoy a different view of the universe as exactly that. It’s just different. It’s not evil, or correct, or right, or wrong, or anything. It’s just different.

  19. ParrotLover77 Says:

    Ron – Forgive my ignorance, but off topic on the subject on defining atheism…

    If monotheism means the belief in one god and polytheism means the belief in many gods, does atheism then not mean belief in no gods?

    Or is the appropriate terminology (borrowing from your post up there) montheism mean belief in the evidence of the existence of only one god, polytheism mean belief in the evidence of the existence of many gods, etc… Gets cumbersome to say.

    I call myself agnostic primarily because I find my personal philosophical beliefs match very closely to what the late, great Carl Sagan purported to believe. And from what I understand, he identified himself as agnostic.

    Really, thanks mostly to the fundies, the definitions of all the non-monotheistic terms have all been muddied. To them a humanist, atheist, agnostic, deist, and satantist are all the same thing: evil. It’s quite sad.

    I really strayed on a tangent here, but back to the original point, I’m curious if you have any insight into the -theism definitions above.

  20. Ron Britton Says:


    That’s what happens when you let your opponents define you. The common misconception is that atheists state that there is no god. In actuality, they state that there is no evidence for a god. We lack infinite knowledge, so we are unable to say that there is no god, only that there is zippo evidence for one.

    I would allege that monotheism is not, as you ponder, “belief in the evidence of the existence of only one god”. Theists rely on faith, not evidence, so I think it’s correct to say that monotheism is the belief in one god.

    I considered myself an agnostic for most of my life, because I swallowed the misconception that atheists claim there is no god. I reasoned that that was an unsupportable claim, just as saying that there is a god is an unsupportable claim. Agnosticism seemed like the only rational belief. Somewhere in the last year, I finally read the correct definition. My beliefs haven’t changed, just the label.

    It does raise the interesting question of just what exactly an agnostic is, since everybody I know who claims to be agnostic is really an atheist who is afraid to wear the label. I suspect that true agnostics are hedging their bets.

  21. free2judge Says:

    Last year was the year of the gay “blockbuster” that was shoved down our throats. This year it’s the atheist year to choke us with their views, which by the way is exactly what they continually preach is done to them. So, I’m guessing next year we’ll the year of the pedophile trying to tell us what they enjoy doesn’t hurt society. I can’t wait.
    When I go to the movies or watch the oscars I do not want to be preached to. I only want to watch a movie. Leave your personal beliefs out of it.

  22. Ron Britton Says:


    A movie, even a commercial one, is the artistic expression of the filmmakers. You cannot expect the filmmakers to leave their personal beliefs out of it. If you are too challenged by art, perhaps you should stick to Fox News.

    There are no atheist films this year. I don’t know what you are talking about. The Golden Compass is the closest thing to it, but they’ve eviscerated the atheism from the film—apparently to appease simpletons who can’t bear being challenged by art.

  23. Brandon Says:

    Just saw the sneak preview of the movie and its GREAT!!!just like the books. I am tired of hearing the christians/catholics bitching. If you don’t like the theme of the book Don’t go see the movie. Leave it alone for those of us like myself who have been waiting for this fantastic story to come to the big screen.

  24. Jim Says:

    I am a roman catholic and not a book reader but like watching these types of movies.I thought this was an excellent movie and can’t see any atheist plot in a fantasy/fictional movie.As a parent if your not smart enough to be able to answer ANY question that might arise
    and give guidance to your family,then maybe you
    should not watch or read any books or movies that could change you mind or bring question in your beliefs.If that is the case then what you believe in is very weak to begin with