The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

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Why was The Golden Compass banned or challenged?

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The Golden Compass and the two books following it make up the His Dark Materials trilogy. That entire series earned a number 8 ranking on the Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books list for 2000–2009. The main reason for the banning of the book (as well as the trilogy as a whole) was that it supposedly promotes atheism and attacks Christianity. The Catholic League even campaigned against the book in 2007 for the book's apparent attacks against the Catholic church. Pullman fueled the fires by saying,

In one way, I hope the wretched organization will vanish entirely.

The book doesn't exactly show organized religion in a positive and glorifying manner. Additionally, calling a person's "soul" a daemon definitely supports people's feelings that the book has anti-religious overtones. However, some places also sought to ban the book because it contains childhood alcohol and drug usage.

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The movie and book were both characterized as being un-Christian. The author, Philip Pullman, himself is a proclaimed atheist who claims to want to kill God and promote anti-authoritarian ideals. In the story, people have souls that reside outside themselves as animal companions called daemons. This, in itself, would rile most religious folks. Other critics claim that having cute, talking animals would undermine children's religious teachings by making the movie seem somewhat Disney-ish. When one of my students told me about the anti-Christian message, I went to see the movie having never read the book. True, souls called daemons was a little odd, I saw little to fear for my students in wanting to see the movie or read the book, providing they had parental consent. According to other educators, the next two books in the series are more anti-Christian.

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