TORONTO, Nov. 26, 2007 – The Catholic Civil Rights League ( today commented on the anti-religious sentiment fueling the trilogy on which the movie “The Golden Compass” is based. The League advises parents that there is strong anti-religious content in the books (Golden Compass is book one in “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman), and that it is encouraging its members and supporters not to take their children to the movie.
“We have no doubt that the movie itself will be an adventure story directed at children, with lots of special effects and plenty of excitement,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “However, parents should realize that these books promote ideas and themes hostile to organized religion, especially Catholicism. It is worth remembering that even if the movie itself is not immediately problematic, it will undoubtedly drive sales of the books and could lead to movies based on the other two books.”

Pullman himself is quite candid about his hostility to organized religion, especially the Catholic Church. The second two books in the series are more pointed in their anti-religious themes. Even in this instalment (The Golden Compass is the American title of the first book in the series), the indications are there.

In the book, a gang of villains called “Gobblers” are representatives of the “Oblation Board”, tools of “the Magisterium”. This is portrayed as a dark and malevolent religious organization that perpetrates abuse, torture and murder, in part by separating young people from their souls. Negative references to “the Church” occur several times throughout the book. The movie has reportedly changed the concept of “Magisterium” to make it a catch-all term for authority that could be associated with non-democratic governance of any kind. (In Catholic theology “the Magisterium” is the teaching authority of the Church articulated by pope and bishops.)

Over the course of the trilogy, what begins as a rebellion against the Church turns into a rebellion against God. This then leads to the discovery that God — and Christianity — are a fraud. The 12-year-old protagonists — Lyra and Will — discover there is no immortal soul, no heaven or hell. All that awaits us is some gloomy Hades-type afterlife where the soul goes to wait until it completely dissolves. Thus the author uses anti-Catholicism as the gateway to promoting atheism.

“Parents are the first educators of their children. In our view, responding to the type of anti-religious viewpoints exemplified in this trilogy has everything to do with being an informed consumer and an informed parent. To that end, we are providing links to articles that we hope will be particularly helpful for parents, whether they have read books or not,” said Ms. McGarry.

References about “The Golden Compass” 

Glorifying a lying, rebellious brat, WorldNet Daily, Dec. 4, 2007

What every parent should know about “The Golden Compass”
(Interview with Pete Vere and Sandra Miesel)

‘His Dark Materials’ Writer Philip Pullman Takes ‘Narnia,’ ‘Lord Of The Rings’ To Task

The Golden Compass — His Dark Materials

by Michael D. O’Brien

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244;