So, this December the His dark Materials trilogy is getting a movie. From what I've seen of the trailers, I'm not optimistic. But then, I'm never optimistic. I'm a grumpy old man. But that is beside the point.
The books have been perceived as anti-religious, and that's certainly one way of reading them. I take that with a pinch of salt, as I say worse things about religion before my first cup of coffee, then faster and more perceptively after. What they are is humanist - they promote a shared humanity that is far more important than any text. The 'villains' of the piece are those who lose sight of that - those who would harm people for their own ends. Sometimes those ends are religious, but the forces seeking to end religion (which has a palpable presence in the world of the books) also do terrible things to acheive their ends.
What the movie has done is reignited the supposed controversy over the books. From the IMDB, on the Catholic League:
League president William Donohue tells America's Entertainment Weekly magazine, "Parents might be inclined to say, 'Hey, our kid really enjoyed the movie, why don't we buy him His Dark Materials for Christmas?' (It) introduces the kid to atheism. (It's) a stealth campaign."
Excuse me, but how in the name of living fuck do you introduce a child to atheism? I'm sorry, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that a child is born an atheist. The water you sprinkle on it's head doesn't change that for a moment. A child is basically programmed to believe whatever it's parents say. A child also has an inherently dualist mentality - it's very hard for a child to realise that the voice it hears when it thinks is generated by a couple of pounds of electrically charged tissue. So religious notions fit very straightfordly into a child's worldview. I think if you raised someone to 18, with a normal education but no word of God, then presented them a bible, you'd still have an atheist.
Apologies for the stunningly obvious nature of this argument (to most), but the idea that there's a stealth atheist agenda makes me very, very angry, quite amused, and with a peculiar itch to start one.