Accuracy in Media

Carl E. Olson finds fault with Ron Howard, director of “The Da Vinci Code” and little “Opie” on the old Andy Griffith shows, for saying that he wants to see the film stimulate “conversation” about the nature of Christianity. “On the surface that sounds reasonable,” Olson tells AIM in an interview. “We are a free society and we encourage debate. But one of the questions I would ask is: would we encourage open and honest debate with people who deny the holocaust or who say that the world is flat or say that Stalinism was a wonderful thing and people thrived under it. Where do we draw this line?”

The answer is that Christians and their beliefs are fair game for journalists who would dare not publish or even describe in detail the Muhammad cartoons that caused riots, violence, and death throughout the Middle East.

Olson, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax, tells AIM: “Consider the things that are said in The Da Vinci Code. If similar things were said about Islam, I think we’d have a lot of people very angry. Obviously, if cartoons upset people, consider a novel written from the premise that the prophet Muhammad was a closeted homosexual who only had a large number of wives to cover up this secret life.”

The bottom line, he says, is that The Da Vinci Code book and film are “attacks on core Christian beliefs and Christian events.” But it’s not just an attack on matters of faith, he emphasizes; the book is historically wrong. It states, for example, that nobody believed Jesus was God until 325 AD and the church decreed it. This simply flies in the face of the historical evidence of what early Christians believed. The book, he says, is an all-out assault on the “facts of history.”

On another level, he says, the novel is a vicious attack on the Catholic Church as an “ugly, nasty, bloody, murderous, woman-hating institution.”

But what should the response be?  Olson doesn’t recommend an organized boycott of the film, but he isn’t suggesting people see it either.

“I don’t see why Christians should put money into the coffers of those who are producing these sorts of works,” he says. “Would we spend money to see a film that was obviously anti-Semitic?”

In that regard, Olson says one thing to look for is the media reaction to “The Da Vinci Code” film. When Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” came out, he says some influential reviewers denounced it not only as historically inaccurate but anti-Semitic and likely to provoke violence. Those fears proved groundless.

Olson asks, “Are all the critics who were pooh-poohing Mel Gibson’s movie going to be criticizing “The Da Vinci Code” movie for being anti-Christian and historically inaccurate?”

Not likely, he suggests. So far, he says, “the media are enthralled with ‘The Da Vinci Code.'” He thinks the media are going “to love the whole angle of this being controversial because Christians are afraid and angry.”

But returning to the anti-Christian angle, he adds, “if this novel and movie were against Jews or Muslims, would we see the same approach? You cannot convince me that we would.”

Some Christians will be afraid and angry. Others, like Olson, will be annoyed but try to correct the record through publication of a scholarly book dealing with historical fact. But when have the media let the facts get in the way of a good story?

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