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Tuesday, July 13, 1999 Published at 07:01 GMT 08:01 UK

World: Americas

Church blasts 'new age' Star Wars

Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson star in the film

By Correspondent Peter Greste in Mexico City

Like millions of people the world over, tens of thousands of Mexicans have been smashing local box office records by flocking to cinemas to watch Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Star Wars
But now the nation's religious leaders have warned that the movie that tells the story of a fight between the Force and the dark side is also undermining traditional Christian teachings.

In an article called "Reactions to the Theology of Star Wars", the Church publication says director George Lucas uses stories from the Bible to tap into a spirtual emptiness that's taking hold in the lead-up to the next millennium.

'Spiritually hollow'

At one point the movie's young hero, Anakin Skywalker, appears before a council of Jedi knights, just as Jesus did before Jewish elders in the temple in Jerusalem.

In both the Bible and Star Wars, the young boys are quizzed about whether they are the chosen ones, annointed to lead their people away from evil.

But the author also argues that although Star Wars parodies the Biblical stories, it corrupts them.

Instead of promoting a belief in God, the article says, the movie promotes popular New Age philosophies that are spiritually hollow.

Knowing the public does not view the images it sees with a critical mind, the author says, audiences could easily be influenced.

The movie-makers were not available for comment but the Church publication is not likely to divert Mexican audiences from seeing Star Wars.

"It's ridiculous," said one fan, "The movie is a good old-fashioned fantasy about good guys and bad guys. It's nothing new."

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