The Golden Compass and the Atheist Blitzkrieg

As Americans plunk down their money at this Friday's premiere of the $150 million “family adventure” The Golden Compass, they may be unwittingly clearing the way for a massive frontal assault on faith and God.

Director Chris Weitz spilled the beans in a little-publicized interview when he acknowledged watering down the atheistic message at the heart of The Golden Compass so the movie can succeed at the box office.  The Golden Compass is based on the first book of the trilogy His Dark Materials by outspoken atheist Philip Pullman.  If the movie is successful, then the second and third books in the trilogy will be made into films that openly attack traditional religion and promote atheism.

While the media have sometimes referred to Pullman's atheism, few have reported on his long-term agenda, even though Pullman has not been shy about his aims for years. 

Pullman told the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald on December 13, 2003:


I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry [Potter] has said. My books are about killing God.

Indeed, the book trilogy's villains are “The Magisterium” (the Roman Catholic term for the church's authority to teach spiritual truth), the “Church,” and evil priests and nuns. The Golden Compass still uses “The Magisterium” as the title of its evil empire, but other anti-Christian references are played down.

Weitz told MTV Movie

The whole point, to me, of ensuring that The Golden Compass is a financial success is so that we have a solid foundation on which to deliver a faithful, more literal adaptation of the second and third books.  This is important: whereas The Golden Compass had to be introduced to the public carefully, the religious themes in the second and third movies can't be minimized without destroying the spirit of these books. … I will not be involved in any 'watering down' of books two and three, since what I have been working towards the whole time in the first film is to be able to deliver on the second and third films.

The problem, then, isn't The Golden Compass itself. The problem is the movie's function as the gateway to the books and the possible sequels.  The Golden Compass is like the sample a drug pusher gives to a kid on the playground.  The first movie is intended to hook children on the story line, so parents will buy them the books and bring them to see the sequels, where they will be exposed to the full, God-hating message.

Some of the biggest brands in business are investing heavily to ensure the bottom line success of The Golden Compass – and, perhaps unknowingly, helping Weitz “deliver” the atheist message in the second and third films.  A November 7 story in Daily Variety, a Hollywood trade magazine, reported the brand-backed marketing for The Golden Compass is $120 million, reportedly surpassing that for The Lord of the Rings.  New Line Cinema's chief operating officer, Rolf Mittweg, was quoted saying The Golden Compass is, “definitely the most important property we've had since Lord of the Rings.” 

Variety also reported that brand partners include: “Coca-Cola Co., Burger King, Wal-Mart, Target, Sega, the World Wildlife Fund, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Best Buy, Emusic, FAO Schwarz, Corgi Int., Toys R Us, Trans World Entertainment, Circuit City, Marie Clair and Scholastic.” Scholastic, by the way, is a major publisher of materials for grade schools.  Reporter Marc Graser continued, “The extra marketing muscle that rolls out this month will essentially flood retailers with Compass-branded merchandise, with most marketers also planning TV spots, print and online ads, circulars and in-store events and displays. Mittweg said the release of the movie is a “true global event.” 

The marketing campaign for The Golden Compass is targeting children – and their parents – everywhere they turn. 

·        A perusal of the Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon Web sites shows that products to be merchandised in support of The Golden Compass include: the original book trilogy, a special 10th year anniversary edition of the books, trading cards, dominoes, dice game, action figures, calendar, soundtrack, movie poster, diamond pendant, books on tape, sticker books, movie quiz books, DVDs entitled Beyond the Golden Compass: The Magic of Philip Pullman and Secrets of the Golden Compass.

·        Random House, the publisher of the trilogy, is offering a teacher's guide to promote use of the books in classrooms.

·        Schools are planning field trips to see the movie.

    Web sites aimed at children are also getting in on the action.  Neopets, a very popular children's Web site, links to a free game in which players “find your daemon.”  What is a daemon?  The movie Web site says “daemons” are “the soul of each individual human being embodied in an animal companion.”  In the books the villainous Church severs children's soul/daemons from them and turns them into zombies. This plot device plays an important role in The Golden Compass. 


The mass marketing of the watered-down movie and the media hype surrounding it creates buzz that carries impact beyond the box office.  It also creates a minefield for people who don't want to support the atheist agenda behind His Dark Materials

Every dollar spent on the merchandise increases the likelihood that the entire God-hating trilogy will make it to your local theater – so that untold numbers of children will be propagandized by a story that attacks traditional religious beliefs.

Here's how that story ends: children kill God.

Popcorn, anyone?

Robert Knight is director and Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.