I've read somewhere that His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman are attacked by many religious figures. I have only seen the movie "Golden Compass" but I would like to find out some more information as to why people would think that this series is anti-religion? And is it targeted by Catholic Church only or other Churches are attacking Pullman's work as well?

  • 19
    It becomes a whole lot clearer when you read the two other books.
    – Borror0
    Feb 13, 2011 at 20:46
  • 5
    The Golden Compass doesn't really say much about religion; the Subtle Knife gives a few hints that the books will have something about religion; and in the Amber Spyglass... May 9, 2011 at 0:07
  • 2
    The movie whitewashes most of that...
    – zipquincy
    Sep 11, 2013 at 19:07
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    Even The Golden Compass had enough anti-religious content that I didn't even bother reading the other books. It's not that I want religion in the books I read — the Pern books famously totally leave out that aspect of society, and I love them — but Pullman just gets so annoying about it.
    – Martha
    Jan 17, 2014 at 14:46
  • @Martha the movie is much less anti-religious than the book "the Northern Lights". Feb 14, 2016 at 21:09

2 Answers 2


The author himself said, "My books are about killing God." His work also appears to be anti-established religion, e.g. in this quote:

That's what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling

In addition, one of the main characters gives up being a nun and states, "the Christian religion... is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all" (see above link).

However, for both quotes it is important to realise that the author has stated that readers should not equate his characters' opinions with his own.

  • 4
    From Pullman's own word's, one could answer as "Because the author himself said that they are". Feb 13, 2011 at 21:17
  • 3
    As Mike Scott says, the movies are toned down. Moreover, the anti-religious topics are more developed in the other two books.
    – fabikw
    Feb 14, 2011 at 3:25
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    I never understood how people could consider that they weren't. The final book was so hilariously and blatantly anti-religion that it pretty much ruined the story for me...Not because I'm religious (I'm not) but because the huge chip on his shoulder and his preachy prose were so off-putting. Feb 14, 2011 at 16:45
  • 7
    It never struck me as anti-religion, but anti-establishmet. They seemed very much in favor of a personal relationship with God on one's own terms. May 4, 2012 at 20:29

The religious elements were toned down considerably in the movie, for American consumption. The books are very hostile to organised religion, and Pullman is promoting the idea of the "Republic of Heaven"; a religion with no central authority figure such as God.


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