Most Da Vinci Code readers believe Jesus fathered a child, UK poll finds

The best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code has seriously damaged people’s faith in the Christian Church, a survey has found.

Two thirds of Britons who have read Dan Brown’s thriller believe that Jesus fathered a child with Mary Magdalene, a claim rejected as baseless by historians and Bible scholars.

Those who have read it are also four times as likely to think that the conservative Roman Catholic organisation Opus Dei, whose members include the Cabinet minister Ruth Kelly, is a murderous sect.

Seventeen per cent of readers are convinced that the lay group, whose founder was canonised by the late Pope John Paul II, has ordered or carried out a murder, compared with four per cent of those who have not read the book.

The poll has shocked Church leaders who have mounted a massive campaign to debunk The Da Vinci Code in advance of the release of the Hollywood film version this week. The findings suggest that the book has significantly shifted attitudes towards traditional Christianity and will fuel fears that people increasingly prefer to believe in conspiracy theories that taint the Church rather than historical evidence.

The poll found that more than one in five British adults has read the book, which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, and that a large proportion believe its central claims.

Sixty per cent of the adults polled said after reading the book that they believed there was truth in the suggestion that Jesus had children and that his bloodline survives, compared with 30 per cent of those who have not read it.

The Da Vinci Code

So error-laden is The Da Vinci Code that the educated reader actually applauds those rare occasions where Brown stumbles (despite himself) into the truth. […] In the end, Dan Brown has penned a poorly written, atrociously researched mess.
Source: Dismantling The Da Vinci Code By Sandra Miesel, Crisis, Sep. 1, 2003

Just under a third, 27 per cent, think that the Catholic Church is covering up the truth about Jesus, and the figure rises to 36 per cent among those who have read Brown’s novel.

Austin Ivereigh, the director for public affairs for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, accused Brown of dishonest marketing and said the film should carry a “health warning”.

He complained that Brown and Sony Pictures, the film’s distributors “have encouraged people to take it seriously while hiding behind the claim that it is fiction.

“Our poll shows that they should take responsibility for their dishonesty.”

The poll was conducted by Opinion Research Business among a representative sample of 1,005 adults between May 12 and 14.

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Telegraph, UK
May 17, 2006
Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday May 17, 2006.
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