William Donohue with the U.S.-based Catholic League distributed an e-mail warning of the "agenda" of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, which "The Golden Compass" is based, "to bash Christianity and promote atheism," the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
Philip Pullman, author of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, makes no secret his secular views, penning essays rejecting organized religion and stating it is "perfectly possible" to explain the universe in secular terms.
The Colorado based Focus on the Family said Pullman's work was "blasphemous and heretical" and the Catholic League called for boycotts of the film and Pullman's literary works.
Across the pond, however, church leaders embrace Pullman's skepticism as necessary for the evolution of Christian thought.
Many British Christians see Pullman's contribution as healthy, noting the difference between retail theology and debates over morality and humanity's world purpose, the Times said.
Liberal American Catholics share this view. Donna Freitas, a religion professor at St. Michael's College in Vermont, hailed Pullman's trilogy as a "religious classic" bringing Christian theology closer to a divinity "fit for our age."