Most Christians familiar with his works will agree that author Dan Brown's first best seller, Angels and Demons, is nowhere near as blasphemous – if at all – as his second, The Da Vinci Code.
But there are still a number who will be encouraging others to pass on the upcoming movie adaptation of the first novel to keep Brown from financially reaping off what critics say are lies that he asserts as facts.
"Dan Brown says in his book that the Illuminati are 'factual' and that they were 'hunted ruthlessly by the Catholic Church,'" notes Catholic League president Bill Donohue, referring to the Enlightenment-era secret society that is the focus of the upcoming "Angels and Demons" movie.
Furthermore, as Donohue points out, Brown said in a promotional interview that the Illuminati "vowed vengeance against the Vatican in the 1600's."
"The early Illuminati – those of Galileo's day – were expelled from Rome by the Vatican and hunted mercilessly," the author had said.
Donohue, however, says "all of this is a lie," noting that the Illuminati were founded in 1776 and were dissolved in 1787.
"It is obvious that Galileo and Bernini could not possibly have been members," he argues, referring to the two 17th century scientists. "Galileo died in 1647 and Bernini passed away in 1680. More important, the Catholic Church never hunted, much less killed, a single member of the Illuminati."
Donohue made his comments shortly after The Huffington Post published an op-ed by Academy Award-winning American filmmaker and producer Ron Howard regarding his upcoming adaptation of Angels and Demons.
In the piece, Howard responded to criticisms issued by Donohue and insisted that the movie is a work of fiction and also not anti-Catholic.
"Let me be clear: neither I nor 'Angels & Demon's are anti-Catholic," he wrote last Tuesday. "And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome.
"After all, in 'Angels & Demons,' Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?" the producer asked.
Howard also said he has respect for "Catholics and their Church," knowing that they accomplish many good works throughout the world.
"And I believe 'Angels & Demons' treats the Church with respect – even a degree of reverence – for its traditions and beliefs," he added.
Donohue, however, said he has evidence of the anti-Catholic animus harbored by those associated with the film and that his organization knows from a Canadian priest who hung out with Howard's crew last summer in Rome (dressed in civilian clothes) "just how much they hate Catholicism."
"It's time to stop the lies and come clean," Donohue responded.
While Howard did not address the "lies" that Donohue claimed author Brown had asserted as truth, the producer concluded his piece by encouraging Donohue to first see the movie, saying that "faith is believing without seeing and a boycott would be disbelieving without seeing."
"Then he will finally witness, and perhaps believe, that what I say is true," he wrote.
"Angels and Demons" hits theaters starting May 15.
On the Web:
Op-ed by Ron Howard at huffingtonpost.com
Interview with Dan Brown at danbrown.com