On this morning’s “Today” show, English atheist Philip Pullman was questioned by Al Roker about his trilogy, His Dark Materials, and the movie which opens December 7 that is based on his first book, The Golden Compass. Roker mentioned that the Catholic League is charging that Pullman’s work is selling “atheism for kids.” Here is Pullman’s response:

“Well, you know I always mistrust people who tell us how we should understand something. They know better than we do what the book means or what this means and how we should read it and whether we should read it or not. I don’t think that’s democratic. I prefer to trust the reader. I prefer to trust what I call the democracy of reading. When everybody has the right to form their own opinion and read what they like and come to their own conclusion about it. So I trust the reader.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue replied as follows:

“The last thing Pullman trusts is the people. That is why he tries to sneak his atheism in back-door to kids. If he had any courage, he’d defend his work, but instead he continues to do what he does best—practice deceit. This is the same man who boldly exclaimed a few years ago, ‘I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.’ Now he says that it is undemocratic of us to issue a consumer’s alert (we’ve published a bookleton his work) that exposes his hatred of all things Catholic.

“We at the Catholic League never had to run from our work. How pitiful it is to see a grown man slip kids his poisonous pill and then pretend he trusts the reader. We are so happy to have ripped the mask off his face. And the movie doesn’t even open for another five weeks! This is going to be a good ride. Hope Pullman is up to it.”

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