By Cathy Lynn
Grossman, USA TODAY
Wed Apr 26, 7:12
Author Dan Brown may be
surprised by a new survey on Catholics' view of his
best-selling novel and upcoming film The Da Vinci
Code- a tale of a murderous Catholic conspiracy to
hide that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene.
Brown told a New Hampshire
audience Sunday that he delights in all the clergy
and scholars "debunking" his story of church fathers
suppressing "the sacred feminine" in Christianity.
Debate, he says, helps spirituality "evolve."
But most Catholics view the
brouhaha with a big yawn, according to the survey
released Tuesday by Catholic Digest, the 70-year-old
Most (73%) say The Da Vinci
Code has had "no effect on their faith."
And 92% say they don't know
of anyone leaving the church after reading the book,
says the March 23-27 survey of 443 Catholics, by
Yankelovich Inc. Margin of error was ±4.7 percentage
"Catholics know this is
fiction," and they're "smart enough and strong
enough not to let a book or movie bother them," says
Dan Connors, editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest.
• 28% have read all or part
of the book; 63% did not read it, chiefly, they say,
because they lack time, interest or inclination to
• 43% plan to see the film;
• 91% say it's not wrong or
a sin to read the book or see the film.
Even if they haven't read
the book or seen the movie previews, debate over The
Da Vinci Code has permeated popular media recently.
Connors said the magazine
conducted the survey, which will be reported in the
June issue, and published a 35-page pamphlet of
Catholic facts, because "there was a real fear among
some clergy that it would be dangerous ... Brown is
talking about the origins of our faith and a
scenario of Jesus different than what the church
Even more worrisome,
Connors says, is "the nagging feeling that Catholics
don't know enough - or care enough - to question"
when Brown addresses fundamental questions such as
whether Jesus was divine or human, or how the New
Testament was established. "These are foundational
pieces of the faith."
Talk show host Dick Lyles,
CEO of Relevant Radio, a chain of 17 Catholic
stations in 13 states, echoes this concern.
"The Da Vinci Code is an
assault on Jesus that has (Catholics and
Protestants) upset ... People are tired of these
endless attempts to undermine the teachings of the
church," Lyles says.
Author Brown, however,
argued Sunday that ferment is good for faith.
"The more vigorously we
debate these things, the more vigorous our
spirituality," he said in a lecture broadcast by New
Hampshire Public Radio.
"You don't have to believe
a single word of the story to enjoy it, to engage in
the debate, to remain open-minded to perspectives
that make us think, perspectives that challenge us
to ponder and articulate why we believe what we
believe. Who knows? Many of us may emerge from that
debate with stronger faith then when we started."