Calm down.

You Christians are just paranoid.

It’s fiction.

It’s just a movie.

And yet… today, on ABC News:

“The Da Vinci Code” has undermined faith in the Roman Catholic Church and badly damaged its credibility, a survey of British readers revealed Tuesday as tensions over — and hype for — the forthcoming film reached a fever pitch.

The British survey, released by a group of prominent Catholics, revealed that readers of Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel are twice as likely to believe Jesus Christ fathered children and four times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is a murderous sect.

“An alarming number of people take its spurious claims very seriously indeed,” said Austin Ivereigh, press secretary to Britain’s top Catholic prelate Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. “Our poll shows that for many, many people “The Da Vinci Code” is not just entertainment.”

ORB interviewed more than 1,000 adults last weekend, finding that 60 percent believed Jesus had children by Mary Magdalene — a possibility raised by the book — compared with just 30 percent of those who had not read the book.

Huh. The Passion of the Christ was just a movie too. So why did the mainstream media turn loose the dogs on that one?

If a movie presents a historical view of Christianity… it’s an abomination, and the filmmaker is a nutcase, and he deserves to have his family members paraded in front of the public and mocked for their flaws.

If it presents a version full of historical innaccuracies and heresies, it’s a major cultural event and anybody who dares raise an eyebrow is just a reactionary hothead.

Isn’t it all just entertainment?

Yes, says shiny happy commercial church-bashing bigot Ron Howard, shrugging and smiling like Alfred E. Newman. “What? Me? Worry?

Ideas have power, folks.

And Joe Moviegoer is a gullible fellow who consumes mass quantities of fast food without any regard for what it’s doing to him.

The best way to respond?

Pray.

Create art that is so surpassingly excellent that it will draw people toward the truth, instead of baiting them to the abyss.

Christian culture has played its part in causing this problem. By celebrating mediocrity and offering such shoddy stuff as the Left Behind series, we’ve given audiences no reason to believe that our Source is any more reliable or revealing than Dan Brown’s D-minus history papers.

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