Bill Donahue is the head of an organization called The Catholic League, who seeks to end discrimination against Catholics in the media. While there’s probably a good reason for such an organization to exist, Donahue’s own existence becomes harder and harder to rationalize by the day. For you see, Bill Donahue sees discrimination against Catholics everywhere.
His latest attack is on The Golden Compass, the film adaptation of the Phillip Pullman book I always keep meaning to read but don’t. The story apparently (and in honor of Fragile Willie, I’m operating with half the facts here) involves a shadowy Church-like organization and ends with the protagonists killing God. Or, if not God, then something like God. Donahue’s beef is that kids will see the movie, then read the books, then connect the dots, and then start fornicating up a storm and eating hamburgers on friday. Oh, and asking questions. He doesn’t like that either.
Personally, as the lapsed Catholic son of two perfectly reasonable Catholic parents, I shudder to think that Mr. Donahue and his ilk (and let’s be frank here, the Catholic League at times seems to be made up of him, himself, and him) speak for me or my family in any way. The other night, I was home with my folks watching some old VHS copies of a show called Nothing Sacred, one of the best prime time dramas in history, which was canceled after one season because of a Bill Donahue smear campaign. The show dealt with an inner city Catholic church, a priest who constantly questioned his faith but never his convictions, and such evil and anti-catholic ideas as “we should be nice to illegal immigrants,” and “perhaps the face of God is different for some people.” It also featured a cool nun who wanted to be a priest and a Jewish/atheist ex-socialist accountant.
Bill basically told the show’s target demographic – Catholics – that if they watched the show they were being bad because it’s anti-Catholic and that’s that. It did portray the hierarchy as slightly corrupt, stodgy, and political, but anyone who didn’t know that wasn’t paying attention. The brand of Catholicism portrayed in Nothing Sacred was, frankly, one that I wish you saw more of: a faith where it’s okay to question, where the greatest thing you can do is love and help those less fortunate, where all are truly welcome. On the other hand, Bill seems to like it when people in robes tell him what to do.
Ironically, a group of Catholic bishops got together and took out an ad condemning Bill Donahue for attacking what they described as a “wonderful show.” Unfortunately, as you will have noticed, the louder and wronger a person is, the more likely they are to hold sway. Sorry, bishops – Mr. Donahue has decided he’s more Catholic than you.
Or, to quote Beliefnet, regarding The Golden Compass:
The first question we should be asking Mr. Donohue: has he even read the books? And the next question: how familiar is Mr. Donohue with Catholic theology?
Most of Donohue’s argument comes from his belief that “His Dark Materials” is an atheist manifesto–“atheism for kids” as he puts it. Pullman is a well-known atheist. But anyone familiar with even a little theology can see God lurking throughout this wonderful, imaginative adventure. And anyone with a Christian background will find that Pullman’s trilogy is rather sparkling with good Christian virtues like the big three–faith, hope, and love–not to mention lessons about justice, temperance, prudence, and courage.
And we’d want to keep our kids from these values because…..Hmm. I can’t think why we would.
Oh. Because of the death of God scene in “The Amber Spyglass.” But then, let’s not confuse God with Authority.