The Da Vinci Code is hitting box office records around the world, and while Christians worry over believers changing their religious views by the film's alleged facts, some place major concerns on the film reinforcing widely held misconceptions in the Arab world.
"Many non-Christians in the region have been told that the Bible is unreliable, but they have never had a chance to examine the evidence or even read a Bible themselves," said David Harder, SAT-7's Communications Manager, in a released statement. "This creates a great deal of misunderstanding and false propaganda in the Arab world, such as the commonly held notion that Christ never claimed to be God, and that only in later years did his followers upgrade him to deity.
This is despite the fact that in the Gospels Jesus clearly claimed to be God and also the historical fact that the very first Christians were worshiping Christ as God. Additionally, because the majority of non-Christians in the Middle East have never had a chance to look at the historical documentation, many believe that Christians are hiding the 'true teachings' of Jesus and have instead given the world a false and corrupted Bible."
Over the past decades, the number of people who profess belief in the literal Bible has dropped by 10 percent with only 3 out of 10 believing in the Bible, word for word, according to a recent Gallup poll. As much 17 percent of Hispanics who have read The Da Vinci Code have altered their views on Christianity and an estimated 2 million Americans said they changed any of their religious beliefs because of the book's content, according to sample survey conducted by The Barna Group.
Such numbers were reported in a country that is overwhelmingly Christian. Christians only make up a minor part of Arab populations and a majority of non-Christians in the Middle East have not been exposed to historical Christian teachings or already have doubts of the Bible as truth. Christians, therefore, fear The Da Vinci Code could further add to those doubts.
SAT-7, an Arabic Christian Television Service soon to celebrate its 10th anniversary, announced that it will broadcast in Arabic two films Jesus: Divine or DaVinci? A Biblical Response to The DaVinci Code by Crown Video, and The DaVinci Code Deception by Grizzly Adams Productions refuting the theological questions posed by Dan Brown's bestselling novel.
"One of SAT-7's primary goals is to give an accurate presentation of the gospel, including the absolute truth of the Bible," said Debbie Brink, SAT-7's USA Executive Director. "We hope our channel will help to dispel the myth that Christians are trying to hide the truth, and instead want everyone to know the truth and that truth lies in the person of Jesus Christ.
The broadcasts will run beginning late May through June.
SAT-7's popular issues program Hot Topics will also devote a full episode to discuss The Da Vinci Code with guests including Arabic Christian scholars.
"We hope these programs will give Arab Christians living in the region tools they need to discuss with their friends and neighbors what the Bible actually teaches, and help them demonstrate the historical reliability of the New Testament and the beliefs of the early Church," said Terence Ascott, SAT-7 CEO. "In addition to pointing out the many factual errors in The Da Vinci Code these films can start a dialogue which will help the majority population better understand what Arab Christians truly believe."
The Arabic Christian organization noted the book's ban from many Arab nations along with the film. The movie will, however, be shown in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Although banned in many countries, SAT-7 pointed out that censoring the film could increase interest in the content and encourage them to purchase black market DVDs that become quickly available in most Arab nations after a Hollywood premier.
To view SATs broadcast schedule, visit www.sat7.org.