This Friday, The Da Vinci Code, one of the best-selling books of all time, hits the big screen.

Although Dan Brown's book is purely an invented story, his following has been "religious." The book has sold almost 50 million copies,has been translated and published into over 40 languages worldwide, and Brown has been named by Time magazine as one of the World's 100 Most Influential People. The film's release is only adding to those numbers and all the hoopla.

Brown's story claims to uncover the "truth" of long-held secrets about Jesus, attacking foundational beliefs of the Christian faith—including accusations that the Bible is not true, that Jesus was not God, that he fathered children with Mary Magdalene and embraced pagan goddess religion. It also depicts the Roman Catholic Church—and Christianity in general—as attempting to cover up these alleged "truths" with a diabolical web of lies and murder.

But these kinds of claims are nothing new. Christian-haters have been spinning conspiracy theories since the day of the Resurrection, when the chief priests started a whispering campaign that Jesus' disciples stole his body. Nero pinned his burning of Rome on the Christians in a first-century conspiracy theory of persecution.

The Da Vinci Code is not unlike another conspiracy theory created in the late 19th century, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." This hate-filled hit piece was written by an anti-Semite to "expose" a non-existent conspiracy of a cabal of Jews to take over the world. Its intent was to demonize Judaism and feed irrational bigotry against the Jews. Millions in the Muslim world still believe it today, which props up their hatred of Jews.

A gullible public

When it comes to Da Vinci, the real ...

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