the take

Philip Pullman Realizes ‘Killing God’ Not the Ideal Sales Pitch

Left; Philip Pullman, atheist author (with lemur). Right: The Golden Compass, atheist movie?Photo: Getty Images, Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Philip Pullman seems, perhaps wisely, to be backtracking a little bit on the whole atheism front. On the Today show on Friday, Pullman denied to Al Roker that his books are anti-religious. “As for the atheism,” he adds, “it doesn’t matter to me whether people believe in God or not, so I’m not promoting anything of that sort,” he wrote in response to a question from “Kim, Friday Harbor, Wash.” But what did the author have to say on the issue six years ago, when asked by the Washington Post what famously Christian author C.S. Lewis would think of his books?

“I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,” says Pullman. “Mr. Lewis would think I was doing the Devil’s work.”

And what did he tell the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003?

“I’m a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people - mainly from America’s Bible Belt - who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”

Boy, that’s a change! Not that we object to Pullman’s previous Devil’s work; after all, we love the books, and in the battle of Hollywood vs. Christmas, we’re going with Christmas. But it’s a little curious that Pullman is suddenly out there backpedaling, just a month before New Line releases the first film in a megamillion-dollar fantasy trilogy based on Pullman’s books, huh? We wonder who at the studio was given the unenviable task of calling Pullman and being, like, “Could you maybe cool it with the God-killing?”

Earlier: Is ‘The Golden Compass’ Too Anti-Christian, or Not Anti-Christian Enough?
Hollywood vs. Christmas

Philip Pullman Realizes ‘Killing God’ Not the Ideal Sales Pitch