Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Chump-Change Fatwa

An Indian Christian man has issued a "fatwa" on Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code. The bounty? $25,000:

New Delhi (ENI). Some Indian Christians are so incensed with the fictional blockbuster "The Da Vinci Code" they want the government to ban it and one Roman Catholic has offered a bounty of US$25 000 on the head of author Dan Brown, leaving other members of the faithful embarrassed by the reaction.

The Mumbai Catholic Council has threatened to stop the screening of the movie if the government fails to ban the recently released movie of the book. Another group called the Catholic Social Forum has said if the shows go ahead it will launch a death fast from 12 May.
Nicolas Almeida, a Catholic and former Mumbai municipal councillor, offered a reward of 1.1 million rupees ($25 000) for the head of author Brown, leading a Catholic journalist to compare Almeida to the Taliban.

Still, the autonomous Delhi Commission for Minorities joined Christian groups like the All India Christian Council calling for a ban on the movie.

The commission said the Da Vinci Code is "sheer blasphemy" and that it has "deeply upset Christian sentiments", in appealing on 10 May to the federal Censor Board to deny screening permission for the movie.

"In a country like ours where vicious propaganda is used against Christian minorities by Hindu bigots, the movie will be handy for them to tarnish our image," Arnold James, a Church of North India member and Christian representative in the Commission, told Ecumenical News International.

Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, said the fictional work "belittles what is at the heart of Christian faith and cherished in Christian life", in a statement objecting to the release of the movie.

"Every individual has a right to his religious beliefs and to enjoy the respect to them from the followers of other religions," said the bishops' conference in an 11 May statement.

Some Catholics have, however, rebuffed the moves to ban the fictional work.

"Offering bounty for the head of the author is a Taliban-like response," Kay Benedict, a Catholic journalist, told ENI. With their protests, he said, Catholics have ensured "more than enough publicity" for the movie in India. "The Christian faith is 2000 years old and it is not so fragile as to be destroyed by a single movie."

Religion is one of the most powerful institutions in human culture. Therefore, religion must be open to criticism. Often, criticism means people will say things which will be offensive to some of your personal sacred cows. This is what we have to live with, if we do not want institutions to gain undue control over our lives.

If you really think about it, it doesn't hurt you, in the least, to have an artist lie about Christ, or put a crucifix in a glass of urine, or whatever.

And, I think God is a big enough boy to take care of Himself.