McKellen said at the time:
The Catholic Church is upset by the suggestion that Jesus Christ was married and that his bloodline survives to this day. As an atheist, I am indifferent. As a reader, I couldn’t stop turning the pages of Dan Brown’s book.
He also said that he didn’t believe the book was true or factual, simply that it was a jolly good read. Whether he thinks the Bible is also a jolly good read is anyone’s guess, but, as was reported by NewsBusters in 2006, he does think it’s fiction:
Well, I’ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction.
This quote reminds me of when McKellen was on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, and, when told he'd be able to take the Bible and the works of Shakespeare to his fictional desert island, revealed that when he stayed in hotel rooms he would tear out pages of the Gideon Bible he thought offensive – notably those in Leviticus.
McKellen came out as gay in 1988 while being interviewed on BBC Radio 3, in which he made known his objection to Clause 28 of the Local Government Bill, which was then making its way through Parliament. He has been campaigning for gay rights ever since.
Last week (1 June), McKellen was interviewed on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. When asked about the current situation for gays in the UK, he acknowledged that great progress had been made but drew attention to the persistent bullying of gay pupils in schools – especially religious schools – and the inequality of civil partnership compared with marriage! He also cited the persecution of gay people in Islamic countries such as Iran, pointing out that gay men are routinely hanged in this barbaric theocracy. G&LH Autumn 2005 carried a story on one such incident.