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