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The devil and Harry Potter
Potter's popularity this Halloween draws warnings of satanic connections
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Harry Potter mania has prompted children across the world to swap their devil's horns for a pair of broken spectacles this Halloween, but for some the craze for the fictional boy wizard proves that Satan is in our midst.
Campaigns against the smash-hit tales of fantastic adventures are gaining momentum as Potter fans prepare to wield their magic wands to mark Tuesday's pagan festival.
"The Harry Potter Books are ... recruiting tools for witchcraft and the occult," American Christian group Freedom Village USA said on their web site.
The group also drew parallels with the books, which are being made into a Hollywood blockbuster, and "666," the mark of the antichrist depicted in the Bible's final book Revelation.
They cite a six-page episode beginning on page 66, where the evil enemy emblazons Harry's forehead with a lightning bolt scar that they say is the sign of the devil.
Against Bible teaching
But anti-Potter sentiment is not confined to fundamentalist American Bible-belters.
Earlier this year the tales of Potter's struggles against the powers of darkness vanished from the shelves of one British primary school because staff felt that tales of magical powers went against the teaching of the bible.
The head teacher of St. Mary's Island Church of England school in Kent said the best-sellers did not conform to her school's "church ethos."
In the U.S., where the fourth Potter book had the highest initial print run in publishing history, protests have gone so far that a counter campaign group, "Muggles for Potters," has been formed to fight back.
Muggles, in Potter terms, are non-magical people.
The organization, which is sponsored by the Association of American Publishers and the National Coalition against Censorship among other groups, says schools in at least 13 U.S. states have voiced objections to the books.
Author says Satan claims are lunacy
But British author J.K. Rowling, who became one of Britain's highest-paid women after Harry-mania swept across the globe, dismissed a journalist who asked if her books encouraged Satanism. "No. You are a lunatic," she said in Toronto last week.
And children on both sides of the Atlantic seem to agree.
Oblivious to the threat of Satan, a small bespectacled boy with a scar etched into his forehead was costume-king at a "Millennial Young Wizards and Warlocks Convention" Halloween party in London Saturday.
Party organizer Tony Twaite said the Satan claims were crazy. "At the end of the day it's just a kids' book," he said.
Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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