India of the ‘The Da Vinci Code’, saying the film "offends Christ" and the church he founded, the Press Trust of India (PTI) agency reported Wednesday, May 10.
"Since this movie is sheer blasphemy and has deeply upset the sentiments of Christians, on behalf of the Christian community, I request (you) not to allow the screening of this movie which affects the faith of millions and millions of people of the community in India and elsewhere," DMC Chairman Arnold James wrote in a letter to censor chief Sharmila Tagore, PTI said.
The DMC was set up by the government to safeguard the rights and interests of religious minorities in the National Capital Territories of Delhi. There was no immediate reaction from Tagore, who is also a movie actress and a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations’ children fund UNICEF.
The controversial film stars Tom Hanks and is based on Dan Brown’s best-selling novel which reportedly sold over 40 million copies worldwide. It explores the idea that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had children whose descendants are alive today.
The DMC official’s letter against ‘The Da Vinci Code’ film came shortly after concerned politicians and an influential Catholic advocacy group met the State Chief Minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra, where the country’s main cinema industry is based.
In a statement to the BosNewsLife New Delhi Bureau, the president of the advocacy group Bombay Catholic Sabha, Dolphy D’souza, said his delegation had urged Minister Shri. Vilasrao Deshmukh to ban both the ‘Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Tickle My Funny Bone’,
a film about a "sexy nun."
"Both these movies ridicule the Catholic Church and its Priests and Nuns in the most demeaning manner and beyond conceivable limits of tolerance. We informed the Chief Minister that there appears to be a conspiracy to denigrate, degrade and deride Christianity and our Lord Jesus Christ…," he said.
The government’s "timely intervention could prevent the issue from assuming dangerous proportions," D’souza added.
He apparently referred to another Catholic group who has reportedly urged Christians to starve themselves to death in protest at the release of The Da Vinci Code at cinemas in India, as others burned copies of the novel.
The Catholic Secular Forum announced it had called on thousand of people to attend a protest on Wednesday, May 10, in Mumbai, India’s film industry capital known as Bollywood, to burn effigies of author Brown, said the French Press Agency (AFP).
Earlier about 100 people gathered for a protest on Tuesday, May 9, in Mumbai and burnt pages of the book, but were prevented by police from burning an effigy of Brown, an AFP photographer claimed.
"It’s to show the extent that our feelings have been hurt," AFP quoted the Secular Forum’s General Secretary Joseph Dias as saying about the "fast-unto-death" call, if the government fails to take action.
He denied the hunger strike was irresponsible. "It’s a more Christian way of doing things, rather than pulling down things and tearing them up," he told AFP. Other Christian churches have also condemned ‘The Da Vinci Code’ as an attack on their faith and an aide of Pope Benedict XVI has called it a "perversely anti-Christian novel".
The film, scheduled for global release on May 19, will be dubbed into four languages and will be distributed across India, Sony Pictures announced.
It comes at a time when Christians in India have complained about what they see as growing persecution in several parts of the country, including attacks by Hindu militants against churches, their leaders and missionaries.
Officially roughly 2% of India’s 1.1-billion people are Christians, although some organizations have reported growing churches in rural areas. At least one evangelical organization has used the anticipated arrival of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ film as a tool to spread the Gospel.
Campus Crusade for Christ International even opened a special Web site dedicated to the film and book http://www.davinciandjesus.com. "Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is a book of fiction that proposes that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God described in the Bible. The book is fiction and not fact; Dan Brown himself said one of his goals was for people to start talking about spiritual things," the organization explained in a message on its site.
"So if this book is fiction, what really is the truth? The Bible clearly states that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who gave His life for you. For centuries the Bible has been recognized by Christians as the Word of God; it is the best selling book of all time and it continues to change lives every day," the group added.
"If you are searching for God and a life that is full and meaningful, you can find what you are looking for in Jesus Christ of the Bible," who died for the sins of mankind and rose from the death, so everyone who believes in Him has everlasting life, Campus Crusade for Christ said.