Christian TA stops reading Harry Potter

Tracey - posted on 10/31/2010 ( 85 moms have responded )

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A Christian Teaching Assistant who's job includes listening to children (age 6 - 7) read has refused to listen to children reading Harry Potter as it is "witchcraft" and offensive to her religion.
Is this a load of codswallop or does she have a valid point? Surely most children's stories include an element of magic (Cinderella's fairy godmother, Aladdin's genie etc), should she stop listening to all fairy tales?
Personally if my kids had been able to read and understand Harry Potter at this age I would have been proud of them.
Thoughts?

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JuLeah - posted on 10/31/2010

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When a person self titles Christian (anything) a red flag goes up. The folks I know who fall into this, stop thinking for themselves. Espically the self titled 'God fearing' Christians
I have had so many conversations with folks like this who say, "Well preacher said we will be voting for ...." or "Brother whatever said we don't like ..."
I had a realitive fall into this and she simply turned off her brain - she never again had an orginal thought, but felt, thought, believed, voted, lived as her preacher told her to. She was very outspoken about Harry Potter - said it was the work of the devil
Religions like this have their place, a person doesn't have to be accountable for anything (they do what preacher tells them) they don't have to struggle with moral ethical issues as the rest of us do (they live in a world of black/white right/wrong) and another person tells them which is which ..... I personally think it is a cowards way of living .... but I also know you can't reason with a person such as this - fear dominates their life, or they would not have fallen into this thinking trap, and when fear dominates, logic has no place - And, but Harry Potter will do okay with out them and JK will also make out fine :)

Amie - posted on 11/02/2010

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Does she work in a Christian school? I doubt it since they are allowing Harry Potter.

I get tired of PUBLIC servants complaining about their religious rights. You are a PUBLIC servant, which means you serve the public. All of them, regardless of race, color or creed. If you can not do that, find another job.

And yes, a lot of children books contain some element of magic.

Johnny - posted on 11/02/2010

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If her job requires her to listen to children reading books, then that's what she should do. I don't believe in the bible, but if it was my job to listen to children read literature, then I would have no problem with it at all. I also don't believe in magic either, but very much enjoyed the Harry Potter series. However, if I was required to teach the bible or Harry Potter as truth, well, then I'd find a new job. If she can't understand the difference between reading fiction and worshiping a religious idea, then she needs some more education herself. She's probably not fit to be teaching kids. If she can not perform the duties expected in her position, she should be terminated.

Everyone is free to hold their own beliefs. But we are not free to drag those into our workplace and disrupt its activities. Where would we draw the line? Would a Christian fire fighter not be obligated to save a witch from her burning home? Could an atheist doctor refuse to allow a priest to perform last rites while he is trying to save a patient's life?

Heather - posted on 11/02/2010

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I went to a Catholic High School and they didn't have any problem with the Harry Potter books. We all read them...then again, we also read Slaughterhouse 5 as part of the cirriculum so...I guess you have to chalk that one up to literature being just that, something to read. Books have no power unless you give them power. Burning and banning them are the fastest ways to say "This book is powerful and dangerous"....And all the little kiddies go out and read it(adults too). ;)

Heather - posted on 11/01/2010

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It is religious intolerance...by the TA. She's refusing to listen to anything that doesn't correlate with what she thinks is her religion. No one is forcing her to read or believe what Harry Potter says. They asked her to listen to a child read and make sure they were pronouncing words correctly and following the grammatical speach patterns of the text. Frankly, that childs parents are in charge of what the child's reading and it's not the teacher's place to impose their religion on others. I'm sorry she's deluded into believing that Harry Potter is evil and goes against her "religion", but I'm a Christian too and I think she's being RIDIKULOUS!(pun intended) :D

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April - posted on 11/04/2010

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Then I must be Pagan too. I always say that "God" is the grass, the sky, the trees, and the flowers. In essence, mother nature is "God" to me. Is that Pagan?

[deleted account]

A little bit about Pagans not based on definitions from extremist Christians.

What is a Pagan?
A Pagan is a person who believes that everything has a soul or spirit. This is called Animism, and all Pagan religions share this belief in common. Rivers, animals, rocks, trees, land are all filled with there own unique spirits for people who are Pagans.

What do Pagans do?
Pagans try to live in harmony with the Earth and raise their children to honor the ways of Nature. Pagans strive to strengthen their understanding of this miracle called Life.
Pagans go to school, go to work, pay taxes, clean house, garden, raise kids, make art, watch TV, do not watch TV, eat at McDonalds, do not eat at McDonalds and love or hate computers, just like everyone else.
Pagans are just folks who have a different religion, a Nature Religion that teaches them to honor all life. Pagans honor their Goddesses and Gods with the same faith that non-pagans have their own religions.

Do Pagans believe in Jesus?
Some do and some do not. Many Pagans believe in a wide variety of higher beings. Jesus is one of these beings for some Pagans. Some believe he was a great spiritual teacher, but not a god. Some have no feelings about him at all.

Are Pagans Devil Worshippers?
No, Pagans do not worship the Devil or Satan. Pagans do not believe in the Devil, he is part of the Judeo-Christian Religions and their mythology.
Most Devil worshipping groups are not Pagan, because they are centered on a Judeo-Christian supernatural being, namely Satan. These Devil Worshippers are a sect of Christianity, even though Christianity does not want to claim them.
Their focus is on opposing the mainstream Christian God and honoring the Devil, neither of these beings are part of Paganism. There is a tradition that calls itself Satanist. Satanists are not devil worshippers. They do not believe in god or the devil or any force outside themselves and other living creatures. They believe they can control their lives without the need to place responsibility on a higher power of any kind. Devil worshippers on the other hand sometimes do claim to be Satanists. . . this leads to lots of confusion.

People often confuse the Occult with Pagan Religion, this is a mistake, they are very different things. Many religions, including; Pagan, Non-Pagan, Christianity and Judeaism have occult aspects, many do not..

Why do people say bad things about Pagans?
People often ridicule what they do not understand. Fundamental Christianity seems especially threatened by Pagans, although I do not know why. Many hateful, ridiculous, and untrue things about Paganism have been said by Fundamentalist preachers, who obviously were not paying any attention to Jesus message. Hate and prejudice were never a part of Jesus teachings. Hollywood has also created many damaging and untrue stereotypes to sell movie tickets. Funny, no one believes Robo-Cop is real, but people seem anxious to believe any absurd thing said about Pagans or Witches. (NO "The Craft" was not realistic or true at all!!!)

Desiree - posted on 11/03/2010

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It's funny just how often this topis comes up. When I was a kid, there was the back playing of records to hear the evil messages. I must have been around 13 at the time. Then again in high school my Afrikaans teacher set us a topic on Magic. All the kids mothers freaked out and wouldn't let them do the homework. Mine on the other hand forced me to complete the work telling me that Knowledge didn't occupy space only stupity does. Needless to say I was the only child to complete the work. But I never forgot that an open mind leads you to places you never thought you could go, the ability to understand more, and read into situations is better. We are not race horses who only see whats in front of them and nothing to the sides. Life is not like that.

Jodi - posted on 11/03/2010

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April, here's a few definitions from off the web:

Definitions of pagan on the Web:

•heathen: a person who does not acknowledge your god
•a person who follows a polytheistic or pre-Christian religion (not a Christian or Muslim or Jew)
•hedonist: someone motivated by desires for sensual pleasures
•heathen: not acknowledging the God of Christianity and Judaism and Islam

Stifler's - posted on 11/03/2010

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I don't really get the whole thing though. Are these kids seriously reading the whole Harry Potter book to the TA? I got frustrated with other kids shit reading AS A KID let alone having to hear kids attempts at pronouncing Hermione.

Johnny - posted on 11/03/2010

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Those letters are priceless. Personally, I wouldn't want anyone who believes in such drivel to be teaching my kid. I want her smarter, not "stupider".

Lucy - posted on 11/03/2010

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Yep, I bet that when the devil takes over we'll all be getting neck massages at our desks and interacting sensitively with others ALL the time. Abominable!

[deleted account]

My favourite part of that ex-witch letter is: "In the adult world, corporations are hiring New Age practitioners to provide seminars in sensitivity training, stress relief, and self improvement for employees." Oh noes, how horrible! We're all doomed (and witches, evidently).

Lucy - posted on 11/03/2010

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As a Pagan, that site gave me a good giggle Cathy!

It just goes to show that there are over zealous nut jobs in every religion, and we shouldn't judge all followers of a religion by the few. The woman who wrote the stuff in your link is clearly just the type to become extreme in anything she believes. She is certainly an hysterically over zealous Christian, and it sounds like the same could be said for her back when she was a Pagan.

I notice the site in your link was posted a few years ago- I wonder whether she is working as a TA these days? ;P

[deleted account]

"I don't believe in witchcraft, though I've lost count of the number of times I've been told I'm a practicing witch. Ninety - let's say ninety five percent at least, of the magic in the books in entirely invented by me. And I've used things from folklore and I've used bits of what people used to believe worked magically just to add a certain flavor, but I've always twisted them to suit my own ends. I mean, I've taken liberties with folklore to suit my plot."
- J.K. Rowling on magic in the books (HPM)


But you still get things like these ...Hilarious http://www.pacinst.com/witch.htm

Heather - posted on 11/02/2010

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I was in Catholic School 14 years ago now, and we read some pretty controversial books as part of the cirriculum. Maybe I went to a progressive catholic school(I'm not catholic), but there was never any hint that any literature(with the exception of pornography) was frowned upon. I guess it just depends on where you are.

Jodi - posted on 11/02/2010

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Heather, having attended Catholic school for 9 years, k-8, I can tell you first hand, Catholic Schools can (and some do) put serious limitations on what is allowed for literature. Being rebellious (and Agnostic, I just didnt' know it at that time) I once did a report on an article about the theory of evolution. I was given a failing grade but also given the opportunity to re-write my report...but only if I made counter claims to why the theory is flawed using the Bible, specifically the story of Adam and Eve as "evidence".
They can't tell a child what they can and can't read for their own entertainment outside of the classroom, but they certainly can put limitations on what is allowable for in class work.
Granted, my experience is now about 15 years old, but strict Roman Catholic rules still apply all over the place.

Johnny - posted on 11/02/2010

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I wouldn't Heather, that's the point. The same question could be asked of the TA in the OP. If she holds religious beliefs at odds with the curriculum, why is she in that job? I'm certain she signed a contract as well, she should follow it or quit.

Stifler's - posted on 11/02/2010

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My teacher read us Harry Potter when I was at school. The issue people have with it and not other stories of witchcraft is that it allegedly has elements of real witchcraft and real spells in the books. Allegedly. I don't agree I just remember it being in the news.

Heather - posted on 11/02/2010

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I guess I'd have to wonder why you'd want to work in a Christian School as an atheist....but no, if you signed a contract to teach the curriculum, then you don't have the right to religiously object to it.

Johnny - posted on 11/02/2010

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Your post just made me think of another point. As an atheist, if I was employed by a Christian school, should I have the right to refuse to teach the bible as truth because I have religious freedom?

Heather - posted on 11/02/2010

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Actually I pointed out that it IS allowed in Catholic School. They have no problem allowing Harry Potter in literature class. As a matter of fact, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a school, secular or religious, that banns the books.

Jodi - posted on 11/02/2010

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Emma, her job isn't to read TO the children. The children pick stories that pique their interests, read it aloud to her. Her job is to listen, correct mispronunciations, sounding out large words, defining words a child is unfamiliar with etc etc etc. If she was the one reading then yes, I would say she has every right just pick a different book...but the kids are picking books THEY like to read. She doesn't have to like the stories...but if it's her job to listen to kids read then that's what she needs to do and she isn't fulfilling her obligations by refusing. Unless of course, as someone else pointed out, it's a catholic school in which these books go against curriculum anyways.

Stifler's - posted on 11/02/2010

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I don't see the big hoo har. It's one book, she shouldn't have to read it if she has an objection. They can find another book out of the thousands of books out there to read to the kids.

Amie - posted on 11/02/2010

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"I went to a Catholic High School and they didn't have any problem with the Harry Potter books."

Heather brings something to my attention. THere are some christian schools that allow the books. Which then means they have been approved by the school and board. If it does happen to be a Christian school (does anyone have a link to the actual story btw?) would she not then get in trouble anyway for not following the curriculm?

Amie - posted on 11/02/2010

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"Harry Potter isn't a religion."

Obviously the parents who are ok with their children reading this, have differing religious beliefs that the TA's. Which was the point. If she can not respect other people in their beliefs, she should not be working as a public servant. I don't agree with any public servant saying no based on their religion, I don't care what the circumstances are. If you can not serve the entire public as a whole, find another job.

Krista - posted on 11/02/2010

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Is there such a thing as realistic magic? Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron?

Cyndel - posted on 11/02/2010

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I think it is silly, but she has a right to her beliefs and choices. I think Harry Potter is a modern fairytale. The magic is totally bogus, unrealistic. If my child is mature enough to realize that then I won't have a problem with them reading it. The only thing I have problems with is that Harry Potter gets off so often with breaking the rules. By the way, I'm a Jesus loving, bible toting, worshiping, dancing Christian who is unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!!!!!

Krista - posted on 11/02/2010

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I also think the teacher is being ridiculous. If a 6-7 year old is advanced enough to be reading Harry Potter, then that child should be encouraged, not dissuaded.

We used to do that when I was in grade 2, and I read the story "Balto". The funny thing was that at the end of the story, the hero falls to his knees in front of his dog and says, "Balto, you damn fine dog!" This was in the Childcraft books, and nobody thought to edit it out. I read it out loud in class, and nobody raised an eyebrow.

In this day and age, Childcraft would have been sued and I probably would have been suspended.

Jodi - posted on 11/01/2010

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Well, I think she has the right to not listen to that book be read if she truly finds it offensive...but she should do so tactfully and make sure there is another TA who WILL listen to the child read his/her book of choice. Do I think she's a little ludicrous in her claim? Hell yeah! Like the OP and others have stated, if she won't tolerate HP, then she certainly should not be listening to or watching anything Disney and Lord only knows how many other books (and movies) that are both children's and adult's related!
I personally find nothing wrong with HP or any other movie or book with magic in it, witchcraft, supernatural stuff etc etc etc, but it is her right to dissaprove of it, but it's certainly something she should have thought of before taking the position...and something the school should screen for in the future. Someone who is listening, helping and encouraging children to read should not be judgemental or closeminded, they should tolerate anything a child finds interesting (within reason of course, a 6-7 year old should not be reading a porn story or a slasher novel) so as to inspire and encourage them to develop a love of reading.

Jane - posted on 11/01/2010

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JK Rowlings is in good company. Here's a GREAT site to see the most popular banned books. http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/ba...

I think this TA is being ridiculous BUT as long as she's not reading or watching The Wizard of Oz, ANY Disney book, The Cronicles of Narnia, etc., then that's fine. HOWEVER, I have a feeling that is not the case so based on that, I think she's just plain ignorant.

Stifler's - posted on 11/01/2010

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This all sounds like religious intolerance to me. She has the right to refuse to read Harry Potter.

[deleted account]

Ah right sorry I interpreted what you said wrongly! Here in public schools they are allowed to do that regardless of whether the school is a faith school or not =]

[deleted account]

But honestly how would you know if a child was reading it in the context of worship?!? You wouldn't.

Sara - posted on 11/01/2010

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"Alison, as far as I know, religious texts can be read at public schools. So I don't think that would fly."

Religious texts can absolutely be read in public schools for the purpose of an example of literature. They cannot be read in the context of worship.

Tracey - posted on 11/01/2010

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I didn't start this with any disrespect towards Christians, the TA was the one who stood up and said she wouldn't / couldn't do part of her job due to her being Christian, and yes children are allowed to read bible stories as long as the text is age and developmentally appropriate, in my school any way, we also have children's stories from other religions and cultures.

Desiree - posted on 11/01/2010

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Here is something my mom taught me growing up. How do you stop something when you don't have a clue as to what you are looking for. that goes for everything. For instance how do you know that the cat will scratch you if you have never been near one. You don't this is why being open minded is so important if you know a little its the step to protecting yourself against other dangers in Life. Witchcrraft is just one of those elements. Other belief systems is another. You can live a life unexposed and it will get you nowhere and no body likes closed minded fools, who think they know everything and end up knowing sweet nothing. It also creates lunatic fringes who bend for nothing and no-one, and do really stupid things all for the sake of ignorance.

Sara - posted on 11/01/2010

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I have had this conversation with people in real life who believe that HP endorses witchcraft or whatever, I think it's complete BS. Your children know, or should know, the difference between fiction and real life. And you know what, encouraging imagination is a GOOD thing. The HP series is excellent, and most of the time people who think it's bad have never read it. That's ridiculous, IMO.

April - posted on 11/01/2010

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if she's trying to get a job beyond teaching assistant...i really think she is hurting her chances of advancing her career. as many of you pointed out, banning HP also means banning a lot of other stories. It reflects poorly on her because it suggests that she may not know/understand as much about literature as she should for someone in her profession.

[deleted account]

It's never too young for a child to learn and enjoy reading. My 7 year old loves Harry Potter. He's only just getting up to the skill level to be able to read the books and I plan on getting the set for Christmas. We'll be reading them together first time round. I'd have no problem with him reading them himself but I think he would struggle. Doesn't mean he can't enjoy them.

Desiree - posted on 11/01/2010

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Firstly i would like to know what mother allows her child of 6 or 7 to read Harry Potter. i have nothing against harry Potter at all I just feel 6 and 7 years olds are far to young to be reading never mind watching Harry Potter. my children are reading it but then again they are 11 and 12 respectively.



I would like to why these people always feel offended by so called "Magic" everything in life has an element of the supernatural. Even Christianity, think about it everything about our belief system is based on just that Belief. The word miracle can be used to describe magic in a different form. We can't eat it, we can't hear it, we can't see it, we can't feel it, we can't smell it.

Its people who can't tell the difference between two world and can't understand it that are the worst trouble makers.



Why do we have to make other peoples lives so difficult just because some of us are intolerant enough not to open our minds to the possiblities in life. Think of it this way we as mothers see the most incredible magic everyday of our lives and its our kids who show it to us. In their smiles, their laughter, everytime they call us mommy, when they tell us a story from their perspective. The joy of being a mom is completely magical in its own right. magic is just a word used to describe things that we don't understand. How would you explain seeing your child for the first time and that rush the moment your eyes first meet? I know how I felt and the memory of it still today makes a magical miracle.

[deleted account]

If a kid was reading The Book of Shadows or decided to read the Qur'an then she would have had good reason to decline, just like a non Christian should be allowed to decline listening to the bible. Harry Potter is not a religious text. If you wave a stick at someone yelling "Avada Kedavra" they won't drop dead. Why? Because it's make believe, it's fantasy, it's fiction.
If you can't distinguish between fantasy fiction and religious writing then you really have no place teaching young kids anything.

The Harry Potter books did an incredible thing. It got kids excited about reading. This child had clearly advanced reading skills for her age. This TA's attitude is going to damage that kids confidence by suggesting they were reading something inappropriate. She shouldn't be working in a public school if she is so easily offended by the suggestion of a (non existent) world outside her little bubble of comfort.

Jakki - posted on 10/31/2010

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Yeah - Harry Potter is in the FICTION section in the library. I don't think anybody (including people who say they believe in witchcraft) believes that people actually ride around on broomsticks.

[deleted account]

Alison, as far as I know, religious texts can be read at public schools. So I don't think that would fly.

Jessica - posted on 10/31/2010

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There a slight difference between reading the bible and a story with christian characters and a book that teaches witchcraft and Harry Potter, not a valid argument.

[deleted account]

I'll argue this from a legal perspective rather than a religious one.

On the one hand I think it's a bit out of order to tell other people what they can and can't read, but on the other I can see the logic of her argument. If it's a public school that doesn't allow religious books to be read then surely Harry Potter has to be included in that list because witchcraft is considered religion.

Jakki - posted on 10/31/2010

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My mother and lots of other relatives are fundamentalist Christians, and I get into a lot of "debates" with them on various issues, including Harry Potter. I put debate in inverted commas because it often isn't a very pleasant discussion and we end up getting upset.

But anyway, I think Christians are wary of reading fantasy books because they construct a world without the Christian God, and this threatens the absolutism of the Christian world view. I agree with the person who drew parallels with Narnia books - there are all sorts of bad people and good people in Narnia as well as Harry Potter, but the basic messages are quite similar, ie triumph of good over evil. I've read all 7 Harry Potter books and I really don't think it should alarm anybody, it's all make believe, and the kids know it!

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