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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 16:35 GMT
Schools ban Potter 'occult' books
The Harry Potter film has been breaking records around the world
Harry Potter 'fails to meet class criteria'
Sixty Australian Seventh-Day Adventist schools have banned Harry Potter books from their classrooms over concerns they may encourage children to experiment with the occult.

John Hammond, Seventh-Day Adventist education director in Australia, said the books failed "to meet our school criteria".

He added the schools had "a library policy that excludes any book acquisition about the occult or which could encourage children into the occult".

This is not the first time the globally popular books have been criticised - earlier this month a British teachers' leader warned fans about the risks of "dabbling" in the darker side of the occult.

JK Rowling
Author defends Potter morality
Mr Hammond said students could not be banned from buying the books outside of school, but they were not appropriate reading material for the classroom.

Meanwhile the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has reported how the Nunawading Adventist College in Melbourne has held parents information evenings where they describe the books as "tools of the devil".

However, this is not the first time that the stories have been accused of depicting evil, making them unsuitable for children.

And in March 2000 St Mary's Island Church of England Aided School in Kent, UK, said the nature of the stories did not fit in with the school's "church ethos".

'Warmth'

At the time Author JK Rowling hit back at complaints, saying the books were "very moral" in their representation of the struggle between good and evil.

In Australia not all reactions to the adventures of the young orphaned wizard have been critical.

The news of the Seventh-Day Adventist disapproval comes in the week that Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone opened in a record 476 cinemas around Australia.

Some schools, including the Rose Bay Primary School in Sydney have already arranged class outings to see the big screen version.

Principal Peter Porteous paid tribute to the fantasy film saying: "It's a fine piece of literature and it deals with a lot of warmth, humour, emotions."

See also:

05 Nov 01 | Education
Harry Potter 'occult' warning
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