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Tom Hanks, clueless about Angels & Demons controversy

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Is it offensive if someone falsely accuses your family of murder?

CNN reports that actor Tom Hanks, star of the Da Vinci Code sequel Angels & Demons, has stated that there is nothing controversial about this film.

"Everybody is looking for some scandal whether a scandal exists or not," Hanks said of the film. "I think a kind of natural reaction is now that somehow because it's the second Robert Langdon mystery that there is some degree of controversy over it. And there is really not."

No cause for controversy? The movie pits the Catholic Church against the Illuminati, who we are to believe (contrary to reality) were a secret society of scientists dedicated uncovering the truths that the Church was vigorously suppressing. The incorrect portrayal of the Illuminati might be controversial to some, but it could possibly be described as artistic license.*

But still, no cause for controversy? What about Hanks' character Robert Langdon's remark that "the Catholic Church ordered a brutal massacre to silence [the Illuminati] forever"? What about this quote from the trailer, in which Langdon declares, "They were dedicated to scientific truth. And the Vatican didn't like that. So the church began to, how did you say it? Oh, hunt them down and kill them."

Making grossly libelous claims about men who are, Catholics believe, God's earthly representatives is cause for controversy. I'm not sure how Mr. Hanks missed that part.

A major religious leader has publicly denounced the film for ridiculing people's faith, spreading lies, creating confusion about the truth, and perpetuating false stereotypes about the Catholic Church. He is not a Catholic leader, nor even a Christian leader; this came from American Hindu statesman Rajan Zed.

Zed, notable for reading the first Hindu prayers in the U.S. Senate, is also a panelist on Newsweek's On Faith. Does Hanks think that thoughtlessly "looking for scandal" because of the name Robert Langdon is a vice that extends to respected, well-informed non-Christian religious leaders like Zed?

What do you think about the controversy around Andgels & Demons? Are Catholics justified in being upset?

*Perhaps before being issued an artistic license, a person should be required to pass a proficiency test in creating art. That may have saved us from films like this.

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