Catholic board bans 'Golden Compass' indefinitely
"The Golden Compass" and two other books in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy have been banned indefinitely by the Halton Catholic District School Board despite a committee's recommendation that the titles remain on library shelves.
Board chair Alice Anne LeMay told CTV.ca that the committee found the books suitable for students in Grades 7 and up, but the majority of board members voted against the committee's report Tuesday night.
The book, written by popular British author and avowed atheist Philip Pullman, has won numerous awards, including the Maine Student Book Award and the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults award.
"Philip Pullman's trilogy of atheistic ideology, carefully couched within the realm of fantasy for young readers, is in direct opposition to the mission statement and governing values of our board," the board's decision reads.
The trio of books was removed from library shelves last November after receiving a request for review from a member of the community. All three titles were available to students upon request.
The board set up a committee, made up of teacher, principals, trustees and consultants, to review the book and recommend whether it should be available to students.
LeMay said this is the first time a book has been banned from school libraries within the board. The three titles will not be made available to students upon request and will be "stored at the central board office for the time being."
She said the books were initially purchased for the schools because of the critical acclaim they received.
LeMay said she has received a minimal amount of calls from parents about the book and added that if parents want the trilogy for their children they can visit a public library or purchase copies.
"The board felt that because it really was in opposition of what we're trying to teach the children, there is a lot of literature out there that is more appropriate for teaching critical thinking," she said.
"Yes, we do want the children to be good critical thinkers but we can do it with other materials than that one."
Pullman, known for his "legendary atheism" in the British press, has never shied away from his controversial views on religion.
"The trouble is that all too often in human history, churches and priesthoods have set themselves up to rule people's lives in the name of some invisible god (and they're all invisible, because they don't exist) -- and done terrible damage," Pullman writes on his website.
"In the name of their god, they have burned, hanged, tortured, maimed, robbed, violated, and enslaved millions of their fellow creatures, and done so with the happy conviction that they were doing the will of God, and they would go to Heaven for it."
A film version of "The Golden Compass," starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, was released on Dec. 7 and has grossed more than US$100 million worldwide.