KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - A leading Malaysian church organization voiced concerns Monday that the film The Da Vinci Code would distort religious teachings, but said Christians should make up their own minds whether to watch it.
But a coalition of Christian church groups in Thailand urged the government there to ban the movie, saying it could mislead Thais who know little about Christianity.
The movie adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel, slated to open Thursday in mostly Muslim Malaysia, has sparked calls for boycotts and protests in other countries, mainly by Roman Catholic leaders who have criticized the book as offensive.
Bishop Lim Cheng Ean, president of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said Christians were concerned that the movie would "repeat the historical inaccuracies" of the novel, but stressed that it shouldn't shake the faith of believers.
"As far as calling for protests or boycotts is concerned, that is not necessary," Lim said. "If Christians know their own faith, they will be strong enough. We can leave it to their discretion as to whether they would rather watch the movie or not. That is their free choice."
But Thai Christian Groups are concerned that Thais, who know little about Christianity, will be misled by the movie, said Manote Changmook of the Thailand Protestant Churches Committee.
More than 90 per cent of Thailand's 65 million people are Buddhists and less than one per cent Christian.
"If this movie is screened in Thailand, it will cause misunderstanding among Thai people who don't know about Christianity," Manote said. "We're worried that young Thai Christians will come and say to us, 'So does this mean Jesus wasn't God? Jesus had a wife?' "
They met with police and Culture Ministry officials on Monday and urged them to ban the movie, Manote said. He also asked that Thais boycott the movie.
Advocates of a box-office boycott in other countries include Archbishop Angelo Amato, the No. 2 official in the Vatican's doctrine office, India's Catholic Secular Forum, and El Salvador's Roman Catholic Church.
The book and film suggest Christ married Mary Magdalene.
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