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Golden Compass - A Surprise at the Bookstore

Earlier this week, at the bookstore, I decided to have a look to see if they had Lyra's Oxford, a short book written by Phillip Pullman as a kind of mini sequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy. I'd already looked the book up on Amazon, and saw that it had a few extras included in it, such as a map of Oxford in Lyra's world, a postcard written by Mary Malone, and a few other things. So, when I saw the card board insert pictured below, at first I thought it was just another of those extras. However, on closer inspection, reading the back, I saw that it wasn't part of the book at all, but a tract produced by the evangelical, creationist organization, Living Waters Ministries.

Golden Compass Collectible Insert
Click on image for larger version, including back of insert - opens in new window

Every single copy of Lyra's Oxford had that insert. When I looked through Pullman's other books, they all had either that insert, or one of the two pictured below. On a hunch, I looked through a few Harry Potter books, and they also all had one of the two inserts pictured below. To see if they were targeting those books specifically, or if it was general propaganda, I checked a few other books at random, but none of the other books I checked had similar inserts.

Million Dollar Insert
Click on image for larger version, including back of insert - opens in new window

Intelligence Test Insert
Click on image for larger version, including back of insert - opens in new window

For those of you not familiar with Living Waters Ministries, it's the organization headed by Ray Comfort. It may not be quite as well known as a few of the other, more prominent creationist organizations, like Answers in Genesis, or the Institute for Creationist Research, but it will always hold a special place for me, since it was a CD made by Ray Comfort that pretty much inspired me to start this blog, and was the topic of my first real blog entry. The arguments were just so ignorant, like mocking the idea of air-breathing fish (bettas, anyone?), that I had to vent somewhere. Since that time, Comfort's gained a little bit of notoriety in the blogosphere. The first I heard of him after my first post was for his argumentum ad bananum, where he tried to use a banana to disprove evolution and prove the literal creation story from Genesis. Not too long ago, when the whole Blasphemy Challenge was causing a minor brouhaha, he challenged the Rational Response Squad, the originators of the whole thing, to a debate, wherein, according to the Christian News Wire, Comfort and his protege, Kirk Cameron, "offered to prove God's existence, absolutely, scientifically, without mentioning the Bible or faith." Needless to say, he did pretty poorly, giving me fodder for another blog entry. In short, Ray Comfort and his organization have pretty much zero credibility with me.

So, imagine my surprise, to flip over what I thought was a bonus feature in a book, and to see WayoftheMasterRadio.com staring back at me. Now, the other two inserts didn't bother me so much. Sure, they're obnoxious, but it's pretty clear that they're not part of the book, and that the publisher didn't put them in there. This Golden Compass Collectible, though, and the way it was disguised, seemed particularly disingenous. And it's not just the insert, itself. Look at the back, at one of the websites it's advertising, www.goldencoNNpass.com. At least they made it so that a person would have to type "n" twice, so it's not such a simple typo, but that's getting awfully close to cybersquatting.

Well, there's not really much commentary to add - these inserts kind of speak for themselves. I do have something else to add, however. When I did a Google search for "Golden Compass Collectible," I found the following page, which is apparently part of an online store for Living Waters Canada. You can buy a 100 pack of these tracts for $7.99. But, if you buy in bulk, they'll let them go for the low, low price of $5.99. Maybe it's just me, but I always thought bulk discounts were for profit making enterprises, to try to convince people to buy more of your product. I would have thought that good Christians would have been selling those tracts for the manufacturing costs, to allow more people to spread the word.

Updated 2013-04-19: I fixed the link to the video of Ray Comfort, the old argumentum ad bananum had been taken down. I also provided a Wayback Machine link to the online store page for the Golden Compass tract. Unfortunately, the Wayback Machine doesn't have a link to the old Living Waters Canada page, but they do have a new website, so I linked to that, instead.


Ray Comfort has for years been making a whole slew of fake sites like "goldenconnpas.com" designed to trick people into visiting before hitting them with hellfire babble. According to one whois site I tried, they have 119 other domains. He once even had a fake porn site called lustpleasure.com (now gone, sadly).

The sites are difficult to find since he (his underlings?) intentionally avoid using any search-engine readable text. You'll note that the fake GC site's text is all images. That's not just a design choice -- it's camouflage.

I looked up "lustpleasure.com" on archive.org. It's there but all the images are gone and the links don't work right. However it does have plain text that one can google... long story short, they moved the site to www.lustadultery.com (don't worry, not actually a porn site)

Someone with more time on their hands should compile a list of all of Ray Comfort's sites (I couldn't find a whois server that lets you search by registrant name without having to pay first). I'm sure there's lots of wacky ones.

Someone with more time on their hands should compile a list of all of Ray Comfort's sites...

At one point, I actually thought about doing a detailed rebuttal to his "What Hollywood Believes" CD. But honestly, he's such a dumbass that I don't feel like wasting my time on him, other than some of his more glaringly outrageous exploits (like the banana video), or the ones like this "Golden Compass Collectible" that I come across directly.

i love that the little quiz card reminds us not to cheat, cuz everyone knows that we godless types are just evil enough to *dun dun DUN* peek at the answers! oh the horror! i guess we really do need jebus after all...

I hope you removed all the inserts you found and threw them away? I hate to think of them corrupting young minds.

Am I the first to point out that they got the question wrong for number 4?

It should be "remove one small line to make the sum correct" - it doesn't make sense any other way.

In the answers, they tell you how to make the problem..

did the bookstore allow these things to be placed in the books? surely that is wrong? over here in the UK waterstones or Smiths or any other bookstore would not dream of allowing a religious organisation to do that.
Do you think they were 'sneaked' in by an employee or a customer maybe?
I would have complained to the bookstore and brought it to their attention- and then maybe reported it to the papers for a little bad publicity for the store unless they got their act together :)

Where did this take place? i.e. what country, store and city? I bought a copy of the golden compass at a chapters in Ottawa, Canada for a young friend quite recently, and it contained one of those fake bookmarks. I'm disgusted that people would try and trick children that way, and sorry that my friend had to see that. I'm wondering how big a phenomena it is, and whether it's the bookstores or people who work there, or random people off the street who are putting these disguised messages in books. Light should be ched upon this very unethical practise.
Thanks for writing about it. If you could reply and let me know where it was, that'd be cool.
--concerned reader in Canada

Where did this take place? i.e. what country, store and city?

It was at the Books-A-Million in Wichita Falls, TX.

At the time I first noticed those, I was in a hurry to meet my wife, so I didn't bother telling the clerks about it. A little while ago, when I was at the mall and had some time, I ran back to the store, and the Lyra's Oxford books still had the inserts, but none of the other Pullman or Rowling books that I checked. I told the clerks about it - they said they certainly didn't want inserts like that in the book, and said they'd remove them. I went back a few days later, and the inserts were still there. I'm not sure if the clerks really wanted the inserts in the books, or probably more likely, just didn't feel like doing anything about it. Anyway, since the clerks had already told me they didn't want the inserts in there, I took the liberty of removing them all.

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