Intolerance at it's finest. Religion is running scared! RC board pulls book by atheist November 22, 2007 Kristin Rushowy The Toronto Star Halton's Catholic school board has pulled The Golden Compass fantasy book -- soon to be a Hollywood blockbuster starring Nicole Kidman -- off school library shelves because of a complaint. Two other books in the trilogy by British author Philip Pullman have also been removed as a precaution, and principals have been ordered not to distribute December Scholastic book flyers because The Golden Compass is available to order. "(The complaint) came out of interviews that Philip Pullman had done, where he stated that he is an atheist and that he supports that," said Scott Millard, the board's manager of library services. "Since we are an educational institution, we want to be able to evaluate the material; we want to make sure we have the best material for students." Following a recent Star story about the series, an internal memo was sent to elementary principals that said "the book is apparently written by an atheist where the characters and text are anti-God, anti-Catholic and anti-religion." Millard said if students want the books, they can ask librarians for them but the series won't be on display until a committee review is complete. The Golden Compass is the first of the His Dark Materials trilogy of books and have been likened to the Harry Potter series. In the U.S., the Catholic League has accused the books of bashing Christianity and promoting atheism to children. The league is urging parents to boycott the movie, opening Dec. 7. Catholic schools in Toronto and York Region have the books on their shelves and report no complaints. The public library in Burlington, in Halton Region, lists The Golden Compass as suggested reading for grades 5 and 6. The award-winning tome was voted the best children's book in the past 70 years by readers across the globe. It was first published in 1995. Complaints are surfacing now because of the buzz surrounding the movie, Rick MacDonald, the Halton board's superintendent of curriculum services, said. The Nov. 1 article in The Star prompted several e-mails from principals wondering if the book is appropriate for schools. Pullman has made controversial statements, telling The Washington Post in 2001 he was "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief." In 2003, he said that compared to the Harry Potter series, his books had been "flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God." The board is unsure how many copies of the Pullman books are in circulation at its 37 elementary schools as they were not purchased centrally and are not a part of the curriculum. "We have a policy and procedure whereby individual, parents, staff, students or community members can apply to have material reviewed. That's what happened in this case," MacDonald said. The complaint was received about a week and a half ago, and it is standard procedure to remove books from the shelves during the review. Any move to ban the book would be taken to trustees. Millard said he's still trying to find additional members for the review committee, but has sent copies to those already on the committee. Richard Brock, who heads the Halton elementary branch of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, said the board is within its rights to restrict distribution of the Scholastic flyer. "With elementary students, you're always going to bend in the direction of caution anyway," he said.