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Head teacher Carol Rookwood
"The mainline teaching of the Church of England is that the occult is very real - it is not just fun"
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Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
School bans Harry Potter
Harry Potter books
The Harry Potter books are a phenomenon in both the UK and the US
A primary school head teacher is banning pupils from reading the best-selling Harry Potter children's books because she says they go against the Bible's teachings.

The books, by the Edinburgh-based author JK Rowling, tell the tales of a young, orphaned wizard, and are a hit with large numbers of children.

JK Rowling
JK Rowling says her books are "very moral"
But Carol Rookwood, head of St Mary's Island Church of England Aided School in Chatham, Kent, says the nature of the stories does not fit in with the school's "church ethos".

She says pupils' parents are fully supporting her decision.

"As a head teacher I have a responsibility to ensure that we give the children the best that we possibly can.

"We are a Church of England aided primary school which means the church ethos is very important to what we do," she said.

"The Bible is very clear and consistent in its teachings that wizards, devils and demons exist and are very real, powerful and dangerous, and God's people are told to have nothing to do with them.

"It is not just books by one author, but a range of books, videos and TV programmes that portray witches and wizards as fantasy, imaginary, fun and harmless, but that's not what the Bible says."

Carol Rookwood
Carol Rookwood: "Wizards, devils and demons are dangerous"
Mrs Rookwood admitted the school owned sets of Harry Potter books, but said the governors, staff and herself had agreed they were not the sort of books they wanted to make freely available to their pupils.

She said pupils had studied The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, but that that book was "not a problem" because it shows an evil witch who is overcome by the powers of good.

"I am not aware of any parents who disagree. Some have said they don't agree with my reasons but applaud the responsible stance we are taking," she added.

The National Secular Society reacted angrily to the ban.

NSS general secretary Keith Porteous Wood said: "Children's imaginations have been nourished for centuries with stories of wizards, witches and fairies.

"In this age of declining literacy, banning popular children's books is doing pupils a great disservice."

US complaints

Mrs Rookwood's decision follows complaints in the United States about the books.

Parents in a number of states have tried to get the Harry Potter books banned, saying they were unhappy at the way they depicted death, evil and hatred.

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

She said the novels needed to include such ingredients to honestly tell their stories.

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