The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue occasionally rips into this or that Hollywood movie for delivering his idea of an un-Christian or anti-Catholic message (ask Kevin Smith), and his latest salvo is against director-writer Chris Weitz and New Line Cinema’s The Golden Compass (New Line 12.7), an adaptation of Philip Pullman‘s fantasy novel that is one of a trilogy called “His Dark Materials.”

Catholic League spokesperson Bill Donohue

Dakota Blue Richards, Daniel Craig in The Golden Compass

Donohue is not actually not ripping into the film as much as trying to warn Catholics parents not to give the “Dark Materials” trilogy to their children as a Christmas present, which would be tantamount, he feels, to indoctrinating them into the evils of atheism.

Donohue’s basic beef is that unlike C.S. Lewis‘s The Chronicles of Narnia, which spawned the popular ’06 Disney film that was widely seen as an allegory about Christianity, Pullman’s “Materials” trilogy basically pushes an atheist, anti- Christian message.

Weitz’s film has been “toned down so that Catholics, as well as Protestants, are not enraged,” says Donohue, but he wants Catholics to be wary of the film because it might lead to parents buying the “Dark Materials” trilogy for their kids.

A New Line spokesperson said this morning that a statement about Donohue’s attack would be forthcoming.

The movie stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards. Weitz directed and wrote the screenplay. Set in an imaginary/parallel/metaphorical universe, it’s about a young girl named Lyra Belacqua (Richards) who journeys to snowy northern terrain in order to “save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization,” etc. Aaah, but what real-life mysterious organization could Pullman be referring to?

Here’s Donohue’s written statement, and here’s a video presentation that spells it out.

“A film called The Golden Compass opens December 7,” be begins. “It is based on the first book of a trilogy titled ‘His Dark Materials.’ The author of this children’s fantasy is Philip Pullman, a noted English atheist. It is his objective to bash Christianity and promote atheism. To kids. The Golden Compass is a film version of the book by that name, and it is being toned down so that Catholics, as well as Protestants, are not enraged.

“The second book of the trilogy, ‘The Subtle Knife,’ is more overt in its hatred of Christianity than the first book, and the third entry, ‘The Amber Spyglass,’ is even more blatant. Because The Golden Compass is based on the least offensive of the three books, and because it is being further watered down for the big screen, some might wonder why parents should be wary of the film.

“The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books: unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books.

“‘The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked’ is the Catholic League’s response. It provides information about the film, The Golden Compass, and details what book reviewers have said about Pullman’s books; a synopsis of his trilogy is also included.”

Newark Star-Ledger critic/columnist Stephen Whitty knows about these books a lot more than I do — here‘s his take on the matter.