The Golden Compass (actually Northern Lights) is part of a trilogy by novelist Philip Pullman. The trilogy, His Dark Materials, is designed as an Atheist alternative to the Christian children story Chronicles of Narnia.
The Catholic Church removed the book from its school libraries because it did not contribute to Catholic philosophy. Their statement was carefully worded to prevent their action from appearing like another witch hunt, and there is nothing wrong with the Catholic Church censoring the content of its libraries. After all, one goes to Catholic school to learn Catholic thinking, not to learn freedom of thought, freedom of expression or other dangerous intellectual pursuits. One goes there to become one of them, to think as they do and to do as they say.
More recently, Nicole Kidman starred in a film adaptation of the award winning novel. This film caused an uproar in the Christian community. The Vatican condemns the film, claiming it "promotes a cold and hopeless world without God.". Closer to home, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP - a party with minor support and even more minor influence) called for a boycott of the film because it "might open the door to the dark side"..
Fortunately, state and church are separated at this point in time, otherwise the ACDP and the Vatican might open the door to the Dark Ages again.
I have not seen the movie nor read the book but I intend to do both simply because Christianity warns against it. History proves that Christianity tends to demonise the best in life. Among these demons are wine, women and song. Literature is certainly no exception.
The Vatican has the final word on Atheism, but I disagree with their view. Says the Vatican in their statement: "In Pullman's world, hope simply does not exist, because there is no salvation but only personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events." This individualistic capacity to take responsibility for your own actions and influence events is exactly why atheism offers hope, and religion robs us as human beings of any hope. Thankfully, the burning times are over and we enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of expression. There are more advantages than disadvantages in maintaining freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. In my view, there are even further advantages in maintaining complete freedom from religion. Thanks to these freedoms, you are free to disagree with me. Thank the gods for that!