Though it's currently on CNN.com, I first saw it some months ago on Fox News: the upcoming film adaptation of the novel The Golden Compass is causing a furor for promoting atheism. Fox's coverage included an interview with one of the hosts of Freethought Radio, the radio show and podcast of the atheistic Freedom From Religion Foundation, which proved to be rather one-sided.
To put this in context: First, Harry Potter was denounced for promoting the wrong religion (witchcraft); now, The Golden Compass is at fault for denouncing all religion. Both are award-winning series of youth literature that have turned millions of youngsters into readers and have sparked the imagination that many parents fear television and video games are suffocating. Yet books that encourage critical thinking are being blacklisted because they're teaching kids how to think, instead of what to think. Such a shame.
Besides, there are several flaws with the argument. The Golden Compass (called The Northern Lights upon its original British publication, and the first in a trilogy) is set in a universe parallel to our own. Although that fantasy world does have its own Bible and creation myth, it's still a work of fiction and cannot be considered analogous to damning our real world's Christianity. And even if the book's assault on its own fictional (and obviously corrupt) religion is to be construed as a promotion of atheism — what of it? Why is that particular philosophy being demonized? No one complained when The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe promoted Christianity. If we are to decry religion in Hollywood, shouldn't we at least be consistent?
I don't care what religion you are, just as it doesn't matter what religion I am. Regardless of our creeds, there should be at least three positive acts we can all agree on: reading, thinking, and imagining. No less a mind than Albert Einstein once wrote: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." So please, let us collectively embrace imagination, in whatever form it takes. The world needs more thinkers, and I lack the hubris to say Einstein would be wrong in this matter.