I recently came across a link to a site where Philip Pullman, author of Northern Lights, better known as The Golden Compass (adapted into a film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig), discusses how his book was challenged by various, mainly religious bodies, who demanded it be banned from the public library. Apparently, this bunch of ignorant theists deemed the book to be anti-religious.
Phillip goes on to recount how a group called the Catholic League objected to the release of the film which did result in bad box office takings, but sales of his book went up quite significantly. Even a bishop from La Crosse County, Jerome Listecki, warned Catholics not to see the film, ludicrously claiming that the movie was just “the first part of a trilogy that expresses hatred of Christianity and that portrays God, the church and religion as evil and oppressive, and urges children to join fallen angels in a rebellion against God.”
The Golden Compass is not the first book to attract such a vicious and absurd backlash from the religious hate-mongers, nor will it be the last. The successful Harry Potter series of novels has attracted disdain from the lunatic religious fringe in recent times, and don’t forget the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight’s Children and the Satanic Verses. This kind of dark ages mentality is indicative of the lengths that the religious wing nuts are prepared to resort to, in defense of a severely discredited and hate-filled dogma known mundanely as religion.
Phillip Pullman quite correctly points out that the “inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone.” This simple fact however will not stop the lunatics from trying. Although all progressive (mostly democratic) countries propagate free speech, religions in these countries, enjoys unwarranted protection from being criticised. And it gets worse. These same self-appointed “keepers of morality” demand the right to decide what should be published, what should be censored, even what is taught in schools. In reality, even statistics show that those who proclaim to be the most religious are invariably the most corrupt and immoral.
Phillip sums it up quite nicely as follows:
“In fact, when it comes to banning books, religion is the worst reason of the lot. Religion, uncontaminated by power, can be the source of a great deal of private solace, artistic inspiration, and moral wisdom. But when it gets its hands on the levers of political or social authority, it goes rotten very quickly indeed. The rank stench of oppression wafts from every authoritarian church, chapel, temple, mosque, or synagogue – from every place of worship where the priests have the power to meddle in the social and intellectual lives of their flocks, from every presidential palace or prime ministerial office where civil leaders have to pander to religious ones.”
“My basic objection to religion is not that it isn’t true; I like plenty of things that aren’t true. It’s that religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good.”