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Humanists to Honor "Golden Compass" Author

November 27, 2007

For Immediate Release

Contact: Roy Speckhardt (202) 238-9088, or (703) 314-7008
rspeckhardt@americanhumanist.org - www.americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C.) The American Humanist Association announced today that Philip Pullman, esteemed author of the controversial book, "The Golden Compass" --which has been made into a movie scheduled for release December 7--will be honored with the International Humanist Award in Washington DC in June. The award decision comes near the end of a two-month protest by the Catholic League, which has charged that the book and film are "anti-Catholic" and that the film, by being less confrontational, is part of a deceitful "stealth campaign" to promote an "anti-religious" book series.

"We didn't hear complaints about a pro-evangelical stealth campaign when C.S. Lewis' 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe' was made into a film," noted Fred Edwords, American Humanist Association director of communications. "No humanists organized protests nor did the Catholic League complain of evangelical Protestant deceit. So why must we hear this nonsense now? Philip Pullman has provided humanistic fantasy stories that cut across religious barriers and can be enjoyed by most everyone."

English author Philip Pullman is a longtime humanist. He is a supporter of the British Humanist Association and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, both headquartered in London. Now he has consented to receive this prestigious humanist award in Washington DC.

The conference theme is "E Pluribus Unum: Reclaiming Humanist Values" and will bring humanists together from all over the world. Conducted jointly by the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the conference will take place June 5-8, 2008, and will also feature Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA), Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, and Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin (d-20). Other leading humanists are being lined up as speakers and will be announced on the American Humanist Association Web site at www.americanhumanist.org as they are confirmed. Pullman will receive his award and speak Saturday evening, June 7.

"My family enjoyed Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association and father of two. "These books teach civic values like opposition to tyranny, family values like love and kindness, and the values of character like courage and intellectual curiosity. So we are all looking forward to seeing the film and meeting Mr. Pullman."

Regarding religious protests of Pullman's work, Edwords added, "While anyone has a right to protest anything they're against, we can't allow ourselves to forget how it used to be, in the mid-twentieth century, when religious objections resulted in actual bans in this country. We don't ever want to go back to those days, when certain books and films could be blocked simply because powerful religious lobbies could stop what they didn't like. Therefore, today, when any pressure group wants to keep you from seeing a film, you may be justified in pushing back and doing the opposite. In the case of 'The Golden Compass,' we encourage Americans to see the film and judge for themselves."


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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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