When the highly anticipated and highly controversial The Da Vinci Code opens on the big screen May 19, crowds of moviegoers mixed with evangelicals will be met with protests and prayers outside theaters nationwide.
18 days, 15 hours, 59 minutes, and 47 seconds left until Rejecting The Da Vinci Code Protests Begin, read the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) website Sunday morning. After collecting more than 60,000 signatures last month in protest of the "blasphemous film," the Catholic organization is setting out for a one-thousand theater protest with tens of thousands of people all around the country. And the boycott has even spread to the Philippines.
The protests will take the form of peaceful prayer vigils from coast to coast, with most of the nation's major cities already covered.
"These public acts of reparation will literally blanket the country. From Alaska to Alabama, from California to Connecticut, dedicated volunteers are banding together for protest prayer vigils in front of movie theaters showing the blasphemous Da Vinci Code movie," said Robert Ritchie, director of TFP's America Needs Fatima campaign, in a released statement.
Ritchie reported overwhelming interest and nonstop phone calls from Catholics who want to join. Protests were also encouraged by a Vatican official who said the novel and upcoming film contained "slander, offenses and errors" in a speech at the Pontifical Holy Cross University.
"I hope all of you boycott this film," said Monsignor Angelo Amato, Pope Benedict XVI's former No. 2, according to the ANSA news agency.
Some evangelicals, however, are giving the green light to Christians to see the movie. Although the film is one of the hugest challenges to the church, they say it's one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities for Christians.
In an earlier e-mail response to Christians who protest watching the movie, Dr. Darrell Bock, research professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote, "The idea that Christians should not go to this movie or read it is shortsighted."
Too many people have read the book or will see the movie, he noted. Thus, Christians must be prepared to discuss and give answers to pressing questions that have been and will be raised.
"This book and movie is already a cultural reality and has made its money so that Hollywood will be doing more things like this," Bock said. "We have become naive if we think a boycott will mean anything significant at this point.
"So we had better engage rather than pretend we can respond from a distance or stop the juggernaut. In the end, those options will leave the Christian response in a weaker position."
Whether planning protests or equipping themselves with answers, Christians are saying "be prepared" as the countdown continues.