The Catholic Church Calls for Jihad
against The Da Vinci Code
By Mahmood Ketabchi
May 10, 2006
Following their Islamist brethren who launched a world wide reactionary campaign against the cartoons of Muhammad, the Catholic Church has declared their own “Holy War” against the film The Da Vinci Code. Cardinal Francis Arinze, a leading cleric in the Vatican establishment stated, "Those who blaspheme Christ and get away with it are exploiting the Christian readiness to forgive and to love even those who insult us. There are some other religions which if you insult their founder they will not be just talking. They will make it painfully clear to you.”
The Da Vinci Code, a book written by Dan Brown, suggests that Jesus after all was not “pure,” “saintly,” and “holy” as the Catholic Church and the entire Christian establishment believes. The main theme of the book is that Jesus happened to have a sex life, that is, he married Mary Magdalene, a prostitute, who bore him a child. It charges that for centuries the Church has conspired to conceal Jesus's marital relation with Mary Magdalene. The book has sold more than 40 million copies world wide in 44 languages. The movie version of the book is to premiere in Cannes Festival in France and will hit the theater for pubic viewing on May 19.
Cardinal Arinze urged Christians not to sit aside, but to do something to defend their beliefs against the “lies” and “Blasphemies” disseminated by The Da Vinci Code. He also declared, "This is one of the fundamental human rights: that we should be respected, our religious beliefs respected, and our founder Jesus Christ respected.” But why should anyone respect Cardinal Arinze's religious beliefs or admire Jesus if the person is critical of religion, religious establishments, and religious laws and regulations ?
The Christian establishment, and for that matter any other religion, has the right to believe in whatever they want. They have the right to disseminate their beliefs. That is their human right, and no one should prevent them from exercising those rights. However, at the same time, no one should be required or obligated to respect those ideas. Freedom from religion, freethinking, blasphemy, heresy, mockery of religion and religious figures, and atheism are human rights too. In my opinion, the latter rights are even more important than the religious rights. They must be particularly observed and protected because first, we live in a time when religious sectarianism and bloodshed is on the rise, and second, secularism and freethinking is increasingly under attack by the religious establishments and/or governments.
Equating religious freedom with respect for religion and religious figures is an attempt to silence the critiques of religions It is a reactionary campaign to outlaw blasphemy, heresy, and atheism. Those behind the campaign want to suppress freedom of expression and the press. In fact, the Islamist movement and governments in Islamic dominated countries are currently working hard to change the United Nation's human rights charter to prohibit anti-religious propaganda and consider it a human rights violation. If such a proposal is approved, for example, women and women's groups who challenge the Islamic tradition of polygamy could easily be considered heretics for refusing the words of god, or The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown could be put on trail for suggesting that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a child.
Last month, another top Vatican cleric, Archbishop Angelo Amato attacked The Da Vinci Code and called for a boycott of the film. He directed Christians to launch organized protests similar to the ones that opposed the screening of The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. He called the book "stridently anti-Christian ... full of calumnies, offenses and historical and theological errors regarding Jesus, the Gospels and the Church." Urging Christians to protest, he referred to the Islamists reactions to the cartoons of Muhammad and said the “lies” and “errors” directed at the founder of Christianity, Jesus, should not go “unpunished.” Emulating political Islam and invoking the Islamists' brutal assault against freedom as an example for Christians to defend their faith is a shameful attempt by Vatican to intimidate people. In addition, it can only serve to get Christian fanatics in a race with Islamists to prove their thuggery, and it shows the common thread of intolerance and authoritarianism shared by all religious industries despite their differences.
As the Vatican steps up its campaign against The Da Vinci Code, in the US , Christian zealots are getting ready to launch a protest campaign. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP), a name that says much about the reactionary character of the group, has promised more than 1000 vigils at the theaters which show the movie. Robert Ritchie, a top leader of the group, said, "Wrapped in Gnostic heresy, The Da Vinci Code is a broadside attack against the Divinity of Christ, the Papacy, and the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church. Together with the so-called gospel of Judas, The Da Vinci Code is outright blasphemy. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the highest ideal of moral perfection; any detraction from this moral perfection takes on a defamatory character, since it lowers and denies His unique and most excellent position as God-man."
American TFP is among the right wing and reactionary Christian groups known for their rabidly homophobic and misogynist crusades. They are among the same groups of people who are pushing for defense of marriage amendments and anti abortion bills. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that these same religious thugs get fired up and initiate a campaign of intimidation against a movie that challenges their superstitions and taboos.
As for the self-proclaimed moral righteousness of the Church, one can only contrast this with decades of child molesting by priests and active collusion by the Catholic hierarchy to cover up the rape and brutality committed against children. They get outraged at the mere suggestion that their founder Jesus entered into a “holy matrimony” and had children, yet no outrage was expressed when their priests raped children and their Church allowed it happen. What shameful hypocrites!!!