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April 20, 2009

Ron Howard Fights Back

Producer responds to Catholic League's William Donohue re: 'Angels & Demons'

Catholic League president William Donohue has been dissing the upcoming Angels & Demons--the prequel to The Da Vinci Code--for a couple of months now, claiming the film to be a "smear" on the Catholic Church. For the most part, the filmmakers have taken the high road and remained silent.

No longer. In a measured but strongly-worded op-ed today in The Huffington Post, A&D director Ron Howard responds by saying that Donohue should essentially zip it till he sees the movie.

Howard writes that Donohue "is on a mission . . . to paint me and the movie I directed, Angels & Demons, as anti-Catholic . . .

"Let me be clear," Howard continues. "Neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. 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?"

Donohue has written a booklet, Angels & Demons: More Demonic Than Angelic (available for a $5 donation to the Catholic League), which he said that A&D "details the myths, lies and smears that are made against the Catholic Church [in A&D]. It also provides evidence of the anti-Catholic animus harbored by those associated with the film.

"Author Dan Brown and director Ron Howard are . . . obsessed with Catholicism. It is not enough to criticize it - they are hell bent on demonizing it. It is not enough to drag out dirty laundry - they invent it. And the fact that they pay absolutely no price for their propaganda shows beyond dispute that anti-Catholicism is the one bigotry Hollywood likes."

Howard says Donohue needs to lighten up and recognize a work of fiction for what it is: Just fiction.

"Mr. Donohue's booklet accuses us of lying when our movie trailer says the Catholic Church ordered a brutal massacre to silence the Illuminati centuries ago," Howard writes. "It would be a lie if we had ever suggested our movie is anything other than a work of fiction (if it were a documentary, our talk of massacres would have referenced the Inquisition or the Crusades). And if fictional movies could never take liberties with reality, then there would have been no Ben-Hur, no Barabbas, The Robe, Gone With The Wind, or Titanic. Not to mention Splash!

"I guess Mr. Donohue and I do have one thing in common: we both like to create fictional tales, as he has done with his silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda. "

Howard concludes with these words: "I know faith is believing without seeing (and a boycott would be disbelieving without seeing). But I don't expect William Donohue to have faith in me, so I encourage him to see Angels & Demons for himself. Then he will finally witness, and perhaps believe, that what I say is true."

Related Tags: Angels & Demons, Ron Howard


I appreciate ChristianityToday's efforts to quote Mr. Howard well as I think he has exemplified more integrity of the two in this conflict. I work in the film industry AND am a Christian, and appreciate Hollywood not being painted into the evil one in this instance. I think Mr. Howard's article in the Huffington Post was upstanding, honest, and exuded tact and respect, while still standing strong against an ill-informed attacker. Thanks, ChristianityToday for showing the Christian community to be something more than slanderers.

Of course, not having seen the movie, I cannot criticize it. However, if Mr. Howard and Mr. Brown, in any manner hold angst, anger or disrespect within them against the Roman Catholic Church which includes hundreds of millions of people all over the world then they are not honorable men but rather they are, by their own words, deceitful men. If this is so then each of them should be labeled as such by the entire Christian community, regardless of denomination. If today, they attack the Roman Catholic Church then tomorrow it will be the Protestant and other Christian denominations. Bottom line fellow believers-this would constitute a direct attack on Jesus Christ Himself.

So when is Ron Howard going to do a movie on the book "The Satanic Verses"?

I guess we'll all have to wait for hell to freeze over before Hollywood makes a movie critical of Islam.

Christianity is an easy target.

Just went to the Huffington Post and read Mr. Howards writings. But it's not what he said that troubled me on the site. It's that there are 6 pages of comments regarding his writings. A huge majority of the comments were supportive of him and his past controversial movies. As of right now there are only 4 comments on Christianity Todays web-site. The Huffington Post, is a mostly non-believer liberal site and my concern is--why aren't our fellow believers posting their thoughts/opinions here? I fear that there are times when we Christians are a bit too relaxed and/or unwilling to stand up and be counted.

Maybe Mr. Donahue has never met anyone who is anti-Catholic. I am anti-Catholic. I think Christianity hurts everyone who comes in contact with it. The idea that God is going to condemn all those who reject Christ by confining their resurrected bodies in a fiery pit of eternal torment created to punish the angels who rebelled against God... teaching this nonsense as "belief" produces children who can't separate reality from fiction, and the result is Mr. Donahue. Stop the nonsense of christianity now. Please.

Bill, I'm the Bill from Denver. I say this as having the same names might confuse others. I respect your opinion about the Roman Catholic Church and you are quite clear that it's not just the Catholic Church but Christianity as a whole you object to. We all have free will and can choose to receive God's Grace of faith or reject it. After all, love requires freedom of choice. The fact that you reject Jesus Christ is, as I say, your choice and I respect that. However, there are many others who are "undecided" about this question. Since there is no proof, the necessity for "faith" is obvious. Therefor, one might consider as they ponder the question "what do they desire to be true?" To those in this category I can only say since one cannot "prove" that Jesus is who he says he is or not, one should not "sit in the middle" too long. Why? Because there is truth to the saying "no decision IS a decision".

I will not comment on the outcome of Angels and Demons, since some have not read the book or seen the movie. Suffice it to say, the book, itself, was very critical of the Catholic Church and of the papacy. Even Ron Howard's comment that, if he had been interested in history, he would not have made up a massacre by the church, he would have just used the Crusades, makes his viewpoint fairly clear (Christianity Today actually had a good article on the Crusades some time ago and the reality is much more complex than the stereotype). Dan Brown's books were both highly offensive. I do not think Christians or Catholics should go around looking for opportunities to play the victim, but I do tire of the disingenuosness of people who write vile things and then say, "Hey...it's a just a work of fiction".

The interesting question for Mr. Howard might be "Why did you choose to direct these two film adaptations of Dan Brown's books?" I would assume with the success of Mr. Howard that he has the ability to choose from a vast assortment of possible scripts. Most directors and producers talk about the reasons behind their creative decisions. Why did Mr. Howard sign to direct this prequel to a movie that did only respectably well at the box office considering substantial advertising by the studio and with the star power of Tom Hanks (and the added marketing bump it got from the controversy surrounding it). Does his artistic expressive side lean toward controversy? Does he feel the need to rail against icons of the establishment? Does he have an ax to grind against Catholicism and/or Christianity? I have read The Davinci Code, but not Angels and Demons, so I will comment only on the former. The Davinci Code was an adequate read. While Mr. Howard categorizes it as fiction and attempts to place it in context with other period piece fictional works, it is a very different piece due to the intent of Dan Brown. Dan Brown did not write a piece in historical context. He wrote a piece in a historical context that he twisted with misinformation or out and out lies. This was never stated to be an “alternative history” where the Axis won WW II, or Martin Luther King was elected president. Dan Brown presented lies and fabrications as the undergirding truths of his worlds. Would Mr. Howard be just as ready to direct a period history piece in which Martin Luther King was maligned by misrepresenting the facts of his life or movement? Would he readily direct a movie veiling Andy Griffith in layer after layer of questionable stories from disreputable sources? It might be interesting to hear why Mr. Howard chose this course with this subject matter.

Hi Bill my sincere apologies for how Christianity has and still does hurt so many who come into contact with it, church and religion along with it. The story goes however that God became a man himself Jesus, and went to the fiery hell and paid the price of ransom for all mankind who accept his invitation to really get to know him and his way of life, he personally wants to know and interact with you.
Please dont put him in the same lot as church, christianity, religion, He is still trying to work with the rest of us in that lot.I am sorry for God that we smear His wonderful name, He is the awesome God, love Himself. I am looking forward to Dan Browns stories being in the movies. All Donoghues add to the publicity.

Mark Clark: The Da Vinci Code did better than "respectable" -- at the time of its release, it was the 21st-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. Since then, it has been nudged down to #27, but it is still ahead of such much-hyped films as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (#28), The Matrix Reloaded (#29) and The Passion of the Christ (#41).


As for why Howard would tackle these projects... well, ever since he won his Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, all of his other films (The Missing, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon) have been box-office disappointments if not outright flops. Guaranteed money-makers like the Dan Brown books are keeping his career alive. (A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but still...)


I think it rather obvious that what Mr. Howard does, he does for the money. He simply doesn't care if he slanders Catholics. If he could make a lot of money making a movie offending Jews, he would. But I don't think he would like to work in Saudi Arabia.

Donhue doesn't want us to know that the illuminati and the Catholic-Freemason are one and the same. Just look at the founding of the Bildebergers.

They are going to release nano-insects with the release of the movie. We are going to start itching alot, and these insects have 666 written on them. Dang sneeky satanists.

I think I shall get around to missing Angels and Demons, but not for religious reasons -- simply because I think Ron Howard is a bad director. I have seen only a couple of his films I could bear. Most of them are awful, and quite a few of them are offensive (Splash, Parenthood, etc.) and celebrate juvinile sexual humor and content that is tasteless and unfunny.

If Ron Howard had never portrayed Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, he would not be a director today - he's simply not talented in that respect.

Thanks for the warning Itchy Scratchy. I'm only going to see Star Trek in a theater where Angels & Demons is not showing, or at least wearing insect repellent. Live long and prosper, brother.

As as secular humanist, who engages from to time in the critique of religion, I can say that there is a lot of bigotry regarding Catholicism: people are openly, venomously anti-Catholic and they don't realize itOr against Christianity.(Yes, seculars can be bigoted too). I think an enlighting read would be The New Anti-Cahtolicism:the Last Acceptable Prejudice, as it show how anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism are similar.

I read The DVC, saw the movie, read A&D, and of course could not comment on the upcoming movie, but I can say those were anti-Catholic, using shoddy scholarship and fantasy posted as facts, going along discredited facts from
XVIIIc scholarship, and XIXc. obscurantism.Quite like the Protocols of Elders of Sion for XXIc.for me.

And I am also, like another poster said, tired of some people hiding behind the notion "it is the fiction only".
Movie is an extremely powerful medium, even if is only fiction.

Take a look at another blockbuster of old, Birth of a Nation.The way the makers portrayed the Africa Americans was a fiction, but did great service for KuKluxKlan. And some people say they were not hating Blacks, even admired them to some extend.There is some thing like intelectual responsibility for material presented.

And by the way: I met wonderful people among Christians, among them Catholics.Saying that religion corrupts anyone who comes in contact with,let face it, is bigotry. But is easy to condemn what we don't understand, seems like Catholics are the new heretics.

Check out this interview with Ron Howard


It's great.

Let me start by saying that I am a Christian - one who loves and follows Jesus Christ. I believe that this alone insists that I am AGAINST the Catholic church. Any religion that puts a man into the position of the ruler of the most wealthiest city on the planet... and then expects people to bow to him and kiss his ring??? My knee will bow for only ONE ruler... and it will certainly NOT be the Pope.

I can't comment on the movie - I haven't seen it. BUT I do agree that there is way too much secrecy within the Catholic religion... secrecy coupled with the power that the Catholic religion has been allowed to have leads to scandals and corruption.

Movies like this will not turn people away from Christ. "Christians" turn people away from Christ. Christians who believe that they are better than others and that look down their noses to those who are still being deceived by the world. Unbelievers are not the enemy!!! They are loved by God and need to be loved by us... not condemned.

Jesus Christ did not die for a religion - he died for a relationship. It's time for Christians to begin showing THAT!

Ron Howard leads a very respectable, family-oriented life; this is something that cannot be said for the majority of Hollywood (and even many common folks who claim to be Christians). He has been married to his high school sweetheart for decades; raised children who, now adults, have not been involved in any known scandals; and has avoided sexualized roles throughout his acting career. While I intend no disrespect to Catholics (I am Protestant, but have several dear friends and family members who practice Catholicism), I do feel that Christians might be better off SUPPORTING this rare Hollywood man who actually seems to SHARE out lifestyle values.
Just a suggestion! God bless all!