Skepticism

Fox News on The Golden Compass

How thrilling to be reading a book that Fox News hates!

A movie adaptation from Philip Pullman’s children’s book, “The Golden Compass,” is drawing controversy for strong anti-Catholic and anti-religion themes. Is the movie an example of ‘atheist evangelism’? Discussing the issues of the movie, the book, and religion itself is Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Fox News religion contributor Father Jonathan Morris. (30 Oct 2007)

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Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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23 Comments

  1. Frell me! I don't actually have a TV, so I don't watch much– especially FOX News. But that presenter was bloody odious, partisan, and– generally speaking– a real putz! The priest sounded absolutely frantic and condescending at once.

    I couldn't believe the fellow attributing a Christopher Hitchens quote to Ms. Gaylor, AND STICKING BY IT even when called on it. This is a news programme?!

  2. Ick, The preist made more ad populi fallacies than I've even seen in the _homework questions of my critical thinking textbook_ ("With Good Reason" by Engel, for those curious). "Religion has brought Serenity to peoples lives" (thats a paraphrase), ridiculous.

    I actually caught the Christopher Hitchens quote before the interviewer was (rightly) called out on it. Fox news, as always, is laughable.

    One more thing, since when to catholic child molesters (you are _damn right_ thats a abusive ad hominem attack, I couldn't care less, its the truth.) get "respect"? Hell, if thats the case, then why don't all of the pedophile's we've locked up over the years get the same respect. I like to call that one a fallacy of stupid jackassery…

  3. That was painful.

    I notice that the video was posted by a fangirl of this Father Jonathan Morris guy. Naturally, comments and video responses are disabled, true to form for people who know their viewpoints can't stand up to scrutiny. [sigh]

  4. Is this what passes for news? I've never seen a more biased report in my life. They give the KKK more respect and freedom to speak their peace than that poor woman got.

  5. Un-fucking-believable. I love how he cut her off mid-sentence in order to show "respect" to the "Father"… Thanks for posting the clip Donna, there's nothing like running around your apartment in a fuming rage about Fox Noise to wake a girl up for class in the morning!

  6. Just one more bit of evidence as to why I refuse to watch any TV news. It's just not worth it, at all, to spend my time being yelled at by half-wits with an agenda.

    I think people who defend the books and film are, unfortunately, doing the wrong thing by essentially confirming that it seeks to indoctrinate people. The right approach is to first call the newsmen/priests on their anti-atheist bias by saying something along the lines of "If this were a book written by a Jewish person which alluded, however obliquely, to the tenets of Judaism, you would NEVER in a MILLION years have a segment on your show pointing out how wrong that was. But because Pullman is an Atheist it's OK to denigrate him and his views. Some "fair and balanced" reporting, there."

    Next, they need to reaffirm that the books are FICTIONAL: "These books are set in an alternate universe. The church is never called "the Catholic church" or anything like that, simply 'The Magisterium.' Pullman is trying to prove a point about how negative an effect authoritarian, censoring regimes have on people and youth in particular. If the church wants to admit to being such a thing by casting itself in the role of the Magisterium, by all means let them. But it's not a positive role to take up!"

    Finally, they need (as Ms. Gaylor tried to do towards the end) to assert the right to express alternative viewpoints while maintaining that simply being exposed to such viewpoints is not going to turn a child into an atheist. Something like "It's the CHURCH that likes to convert and evangelize to people by intimidating them with the 'truth' of their position. I think Pullman is simply giving them food for thought. If the church is so scared that they'll be losing people based on ONE book or movie, that doesn't say much for the strength of those peoples' faith, does it?"

    It's just too bad TV News would never give anyone the time to say what I've just written up there without interrupting them 17 times and yelling a lot. ::sigh::

  7. Bravo, Expatria! Well said!

    I’ll have to wait until I get home to watch the clip, as youtube is blocked here at work. But I have no trouble guessing at what it must be like. I never watch FOX “news” as it makes me want to throw things at the TV.

    This same subject came up at this week’s “men’s breakfast” that I attend at my church. One of the members was promoting the idea of a boycott of the book and the film due to its evil/atheist nature. Fortunately, most of the group agreed with my position that trying to suppress ideas he didn’t like is never the right approach, especially when he acknowledged that he had not, in fact, ever even read the book! I also objected to his pejorative use of the word “atheist” as being inherently evil. It was about as ridiculous as his use of the phrase “true Christian,” which he kept tossing about with abandon. Even our minister objected to that one. We occasionally came close to yelling at each other, but managed to remain friends when all was said and done.

    In the end, several of us agreed that now we pretty much HAD to read the books, to see for ourselves what the fuss was about. As one person noted, when anyone tells him that he can’t or shouldn’t read or do something, that just makes him want to read or do it about ten times more. So now I am on the waiting list at the library. If it takes too long, I’ll just go out and buy the the book. From what has been said here, I expect I will enjoy it. Anyone who feels that the the Church should be immune from criticism, or that it has committed no crimes for which it should answer are sadly ignorant of history.

    All in all, a pretty typical men’s breakfast.

  8. What they also don't seem to mention is that the Catholic Church, and just about ever other religion indoctrinated children as a regular practice; I understand that you have to start when they are young to make them believe such crazy ideas. Its just another case of one group demanding freedom of speech (Religious people) for themselves but wanting everyone who has an opposing view point to shut up.

  9. OK, I just watched the clip, and I would have to say all three of them sounded kind of stupid to me. Granted, the woman sounded the least bigoted of the three, but that's not exactly a high bar to jump over. But "pernicious Christianity" in CS Lewis' Narnia series? What a load of unmitigated crap! That these books are still popular decades after being written has essentially NOTHING to do with religious themes in the books. They are popular because they are well written stories. They are no more likely to turn someone into a Christian than Pullman's books are to turn anyone into an atheist. She didn't exactly cover herself with glory with that comment.

    I truly cringed at the "known atheist" comment from the priest. What a sanctimonious a–hole! Like you're all some kind of sick deviants. You can just feel God's love pouring out of that arrogant prick's smirking face. And since when does a supposed "journalist" refer to comments made (again supposedly) by one of his guest as "stupid?" FOX is an unfunny joke.

    And how DARE Pullman promote atheism to children as young as 11 years old?! Doesn't he know that presenting more than one side of an issue to children can only result in them being mentally damaged for the rest of their lives? Children should NEVER be exposed to multiple viewpoints and allowed to decide any important issues for themselves! It's just not right!

  10. I wouldn't know about "pernicious christianity" (had to look that word up to know what it meant) in the Chronicles of Narnia series, since I haven't read any of the books. But I can easily understand how you or anyone else in the west might easily overlook the presence of christian symbolism or references in a fictional story, for the simple reason that it's become so ingrained in our culture after 2000 years of co-existence.

    I wouldn't say this christian "presence" in the story would be destructive or "evil", but it could easily be pervaded by it without most of us realising until someone pointed it out.

  11. bug-girl,

    Stop watching TV! I did, and my world suddenly became much less doomed. Since ignorance is bliss, I have found ignorance of ignorance to be doubly blissful.

    exarch,

    Although I certainly was unaware of the christian symbolism in the Narnia series when I read it as a boy, it has always been quite obvious to me since I got a bit older. I just don't happen to think that the symbolism and christian references are "pernicious," any more than I would find atheist symbolism or references in Pullman's books to be "pernicious." I think it's a horrible misuse of the word/idea to suggest that these kinds of ideas are somehow mentally corrosive. As if one's brain could somehow be damaged by reading such things. That same kind of "reasoning" (if you can call it that) is what leads people to try to ban books from libraries or burn them in bonfires, both of which actions I consider to be crimes against humanity.

    As I told my men's group, if Pullman's books are well written and tell a compelling narrative, they will stand the test of time, just as the Narnia series has. And there would therefore be things that can and should be learned from them, independent of one's belief (or non-belief) in a god.

  12. I agree with SteveT when the father said "Pullman is a known Atheist" it had the tone of a 'known child molester' or 'known wife beater'.

    Don't they realize they drive more people to the movies when they boycott them? How many more people went to that crappy Scorsese movie where Willem Dafoe played Jesus because of all the protests?

  13. OK Eisnel, and the rest…. do I dare admit here… I am the 'fangirl' of the Father Jonathan Morris videos on YouTube. In response to "true to form for people who know their viewpoints can’t stand up to scrutiny."… that's not the case why I've kept them closed. Sometimes folks who leave comments resort to really spiteful talk and name-calling, and I didn't really want to deal with that. But… you talked me into it and I'm going to go on ahead and open the comments field to the videos. If people can defend their positions or disagree with whatever has been said, I'll welcome those, but for those who decide to bash and say hateful things — be warned — you'll taste crunchy in milk.

  14. How thrilling to be reading a book that Fox News hates!

    That’s pretty much any book that isn’t the Bible, isn’t it? After all, book-learnin’ is for libruls!

    Anyway… That clip is pretty amazing. I think everybody else has covered just what’s wrong with these Faux News nitwits. That being said, I can’t wait to see this movie, if only because it gives Sean Hannity something else to be upset about.

  15. HitchensZone said,

    November 8, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    "[…]How many more people went to that crappy Scorsese movie where Willem Dafoe played Jesus because of all the protests?"

    Hey hey…let's not TOTALLY knock The Last Temptation of Christ. I actually rather liked that movie, and the ideas behind it, despite not believing in the whole, ya know, Jesus thing.

    Besides, it's fun to put LTOC up against The Passion of the Christ to highlight two VERY different sorts of believers: the former story is largely psychological and attempts to humanize Jesus, pointing out (in story terms) the character's EMOTIONAL suffering and the impact of his sacrificing his human side to fulfill his destiny. The Mel Gibson film, on the other hand, largely ditches the emotional side and instead focuses on the character's physical suffering and torture, beating the audience (and ol'Jebus) into submission via gratuitous violence.

    The question is, which film's fans would YOU prefer to be around? :-P

  16. "This is a news programme?!"

    Yes, unfortunately our news channels have devolved into these ideologically and personality driven festivals of idiocy. They don't even pretend to be unbiased despite slogans to the contrary.

  17. "Next, they need to reaffirm that the books are FICTIONAL: “These books are set in an alternate universe. The church is never called “the Catholic church” or anything like that, simply ‘The Magisterium.’ "

    Yeah, but I would love to hear an affirmative response, "Yes, of course its the Catholic Church, I wrote this book to show how evil they really are!"

  18. Wow, what a biased interview: Let's take a priest who works for fox and ask him questions like Annie Laurie Gaylor is an outsider. Also, let's ask Annie Laurie Gaylor questions that attack her character and put her on the spot. While we're at it, let's give the priest more time and even give him the last word. Does Fox News have an agenda? NO! How could I ask such a thing? I wonder what the memo Rupert Murdoch sent out that morning looked like. Aside from all of the things I mentioned above, the most important point which was completely missed is that it is a movie and it is set to come out in America where there is freedom of speech. If Catholics/Christians/theists want to boycott the movie, then so be it. I think it will only give the movie more publicity and the movie will become a "cult classic" as they call them… meaning it will probably be popular among teenagers and college students. They'll probably watch it just to say that they saw it and so they can discuss it as "intellectuals". Anyway, it would obviously be best if there was not a boycott. I think that the reason for the boycott is rediculous. So what if it is promoting atheism? Annie Laurie Gaylor should have been more strong in sending the message that atheism is not evil, so if it is promoting atheism it is not a bad thing! She did touch on that, but she really seemed passive and defensive (then again, that is why I mentioned the problems with bias in the interview).

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