The Da Vinci Code is – or at least, prior to some of the atrocious reviews it’s received, was – supposed to be one of the year’s big blockbuster films. The Catholic Church meanwhile has been making a big PR push to make sure people realise that the film is fictional, that the Priory of Sion and the documents the theory are based on were a 1960s hoax and that Ruth Kelly isn’t really part of a cult of murderous albinos.

The Catholic “Da Vinci Code Response Group” (which is apparantly an unofficial group of Catholic clergy and laymen put together to respond to media queries about the book/film) commissioned a poll by ORB to find out how many people who had read the book actually believed any of this.

Asked what they thought about the book’s premise that “Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children and that this has been kept quiet by the Church over the past 2000 years” – 42% of people thought it was rubbish, 19% thought there was “some truth” in it, 17% thought the book was “partially” based on historic truth, and 5% thought it was true.

27% of people thought that the Catholic church was covering up the truth about Jesus, and 7% thought that Opus Dei had really carried out murders.

On all these questions there was an obvious correlation with age – amongst those over the age of 65 only 1% thought the Da Vinci Code was true, 19% thought the Catholic church was covering up the truth about Jesus and 4% thought that Opus Dei carried out murders. Amongst those under the age of 24 the figures were 10%, 36% and 15% respectively.

There was also a correlation between believing these things and having read the Da Vinci Code. 22% of people said they had read the book, and those people were more likely to believe the claims – though this obviously doesn’t necessarily imply causality. It might be that if you believe such things already you are more likely to go out and read the Da Vinci Code!

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