'A Wrinkle In Time' religious controversy: Why Christians criticized Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle, a devoted Christian, wrote and published "A Wrinkle In Time" in 1962. But while the children's book earned success as a bestseller, the author received the hardest criticisms from her fellow Christians.

(Facebook/WrinkleInTimeMovie)Conservative Christians did not like the religious references on "A Wrinkle In Time," when it first came out as a book in the 1960s.

As Disney releases the big screen adaptation of "A Wrinkle in Time," the history behind its religious controversy has once again surfaced. At the time the book came out, Christian readers complained about the facets of her story - mainly that it showcased magical elements from three beings who used crystal balls and had mythical powers. They sought the banning of the book from libraries and schools because of this for fear that it would influence children.

"A Wrinkle In Time" centered on a teenager named Meg Murry who magically discovers an intergalactic world where she meets guardian beings Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit. They tell her that she has to save her missing father from a Black Thing, an act that would also help restore order in the universe.

As an Episcopalian, L'Engle presented an unorthodox idea that combined science and religious themes in her book, which also turned off conservative Christians. She wrote the three beings as messengers of God. She referenced the Book of Daniel and also equated Jesus Christ to Gandhi, Buddha and Einstein as the world's best fighters.

"She was engaged in this project of revisioning Christianity, pretty much like C.S. Lewis was with The Chronicles of Narnia," Professor Marek Oziewicz of the University of Minnesota stated. "I'm not sure if she was trying to equate them, but she was definitely speaking about something that she called the 'heresy of love.'"

Over the years, people would continue to challenge the story and message of "A Wrinkle In Time," hence it remained controversial for decades. The author claimed in a 2001 interview that the criticisms did affect her, but at the end of the day, she learned to live with it.

Hollywood took an interest in developing the book into a movie in the early '80s but it was regarded as "unfilmable." Director Ava DuVernay took on the project for Disney when the studio finally pushed production in 2016. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling signed up for the roles of the guardians, and the actresses said "A Wrinkle In Time" was actually one of their favorite books growing up.

"A Wrinkle In Time" began its run in U.S. theaters on March 9.