“The Golden Compass” is New Line Cinema’s huge gamble: a sprawling film fantasy that boasts a high-profile cast, a tale of mystery and magic, astonishing special effects and a $180 million budget. It opens in 3,528 theaters this weekend.

The film is also a source of great controversy, as it is based on the first in a trilogy of novels (“His Dark Materials”) written by militant atheist Philip Pullman.

The Catholic League’s Bill Donahue has been one of the voices at the forefront of the opposition campaign. Saying the books “denigrate Christianity, thrash the Catholic Church and sell the virtues of atheism,” Mr. Donahue has called on Catholics to boycott the movie.

Ted Baehr, who heads the Christian Film and Television Commission, recently told Fox News in discussing the film: “Children who buy into this are going to be trapped in a sad, desperate world.”

The cause for concern comes directly from Mr. Pullman’s own words.

The iconoclastic Pullman told the Sydney Morning News in 2003, “My books are about killing God.”

In addition, Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, told Fox News, in a separate interview, that Mr. Pullman wrote the trilogy “to counter the pernicious Christianity of C.S. Lewis’ ‘Narnia’ series.”

Indeed, Mr. Pullman seems to be have an evangelistic fervor regarding his non-belief, having participated in a DVD designed for 11-year-old British school children titled “Why Atheism.” The DVD series touts itself as being “a comprehensive introduction to the secular philosophies of Atheism and Humanism.” Pullman is one of six people featured on the DVD who “do not believe in God.”

While the new movie is said to have diluted the overt messages of atheism, there is still cause for concern, in my mind.

Christians in a secular culture

Christians have every right to have a voice in the world of entertainment. We may not get much favorable treatment from Hollywood, but we do have a vote. And that vote is cast with our wallets.

So I will not waste my time or money on “The Golden Compass,” and I have encouraged my Thomas Road Baptist Church flock to avoid the film, as well.

I hope pastors across the nation will do the same, not in a knee-jerk way, but in a reasoned manner that points to the Bible.

Dinesh D’Souza, author of The New York Times best-seller “What’s So Great About Christianity,” reminds us that Mr. Pullman’s books, and perhaps the movie, are part of what he terms “an atheist propaganda campaign” aimed at young people.

“They are aiming to indoctrinate young people against the religious beliefs of their parents during a time when most Americans are celebrating religious holidays,” said Mr. D’Souza.

Therefore, parents need to be on guard.

I believe pastors also need to ensure that the young people in their churches understand the background of this movie and its creator. There is already enough pressure on Christian young people to abandon their core Christian beliefs.

Finally, Christian parents, we would be well-advised to remember how, when we were kids, the things of the world often held great fascination for us. So, too, are our children sometimes gripped with fascination over things that are not good for them.

I suggest we have options on hand – such as the “Narnia” books or other Christian alternatives – to offer our kids when we talk about “The Golden Compass” and why we don’t believe we should see the movie.

Remember, as James 1:15 tells us, when desire is conceived it gives birth to sin. Let’s prayerfully do our best to help our children keep their hearts and minds on Jesus Christ, amid this world of many temptations.

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