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Pullman addresses Catholic controversy

Nov. 26, 2007 at 9:58 PM

NEW YORK, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- British author Philip Pullman is an atheist, but denies a religious group's claims he is trying to recruit children to adopt his beliefs through his books.

Newsweek said The Catholic League is encouraging families to boycott "The Golden Compass," the upcoming film adaptation of one of Pullman's "His Dark Materials" fantasy books.

The magazine quotes Bill Donohue, the group's president, as saying the movie is "bait" to lure youths to Pullman's novels where they will be influenced by the author's "pernicious atheist agenda."

But Pullman told Newsweek he is a story-teller whose only agenda is "to get you to turn the page."

"To regard it as this Donohue man has said -- that I'm a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people -- how the hell does he know that? Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers?" Pullman said. "Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world."

Co-starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott and Eva Green, the film is slated to open Dec. 7.

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