Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Breaking the Code

Reality check: the new film and the international bestseller of the same title, “The Da Vinci Code,” are works of fiction. But apparently the British are a lot more impressionable than we ever thought. A survey of readers from across the pond found that the book “The Da Vinci Code” had undermined faith in the Roman Catholic Church and badly damaged its credibility.

A prominent group of English Roman Catholic monks, theologians, nuns and members of Opus Dei have sought to promote Catholic beliefs at a time when the release of the film “The Da Vinci Code” has provoked a storm of controversy. It premieres at the Cannes Film Festival today. These religious groups have also commissioned a survey from leading pollster Opinion Research Business (ORB). Based on interviews with more than 1,000 adults last weekend, here’s what ORB found:

1) According to the ORB survey, people who have read Dan Brown’s blockbuster are TWICE as likely to think:

A. Jesus Christ was wealthy and had Jewish slaves
B. Jesus Christ fathered children
C. Jesus Christ was Roman
D. Jesus Christ never said he was the son of God

2) These same readers are now FOUR times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is:

A. …embezzling money from the Church
B. …a breeding ground for perverted priests
C. …a charitable group that adheres to Catholic principles
D. …a murderous sect

3) True or False: These Catholic English groups have demanded that “The Da Vinci Code” movie, which is having its world premiere at the Cannes Film festival today, should carry a “health warning.”


1) B: The ORB survey found that a whopping 60 percent believed Jesus had children by Mary Magdalene — a possibility raised by the book — compared with just 30 percent of those who had not read the book.

2) D: The novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies, depicts Opus Dei as a ruthless organization whose members resort to murder to protect the Church’s secrets. According to the survey, 17 percent of readers believed the group had committed murder, compared with just four percent of non-readers. Opus Dei spokesman Jack Valero said he was astonished.

“Since we were founded in 1928, Opus Dei has promoted the highest moral standards at work, spreading a message of Christian love and understanding,” he said. “Yet ‘The Da Vinci Code’ has persuaded hundreds of thousands of people that we have blood on our hands.”

3) True. Guess they think watching the movie could lead to dry mouth and eternal damnation.


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