... If people stopped bitching about The Golden Compass and, instead, waited to go see the actual movie? Sure, according to a recent Hollywood Reporter article, they've "removed all references to the church, the Bible and sin ..." -- but does it really matter? It's a kids film. And I don't blame New Line or director Chris Weitz for wanting to tone down the "heavy" material so that the more fantastical elements of the books could remain front and center. Film is a visual medium after all. The Christian groups are pissed the flick will make kids want to go buy the books and -- God forbid -- learn more about the world. Like the film is some sort of ridiculous gateway drug that could potentially corrupt the minds of millions of children everywhere. The Golden Compass -- it's the new heroin! Here's how I imagine a conversation between child and parent will go immediately after watching The Golden Compass:

Parent: [sweating, shaking] So ... did you, gulp, like the film?

Kid: I liked the talking bear. He was cool. Can we get ice cream?

Parent: So, um [wipes sweat] -- you don't want to become an Atheist now?

Kid: No. I simply want a parent that isn't a complete f**king moron. I want a parent that lets me make my own decisions in life. I want a parent that exposes me to all religions, to all beliefs, and allows me to learn about the world I live in. As a person who represents the future of this country, and this world, I believe I deserve that. So, can we get ice cream now?

Fans of the books are pissed because all the "meat" has been left on the cutting room floor. Oh well. Welcome to Hollywood ... book readers. The Golden Compass will sneak preview this Saturday night in 800 theaters across America. If, come Monday morning, 800 theaters worth of people suddenly decide to swear off the whole God thing, we'll know we have a problem. In the meantime, where are the guys from South Park when you need a good rant on religion. Oh wait, there they are ...