"Wiccans dispute Potter claims"
by Ben Roy ("Citizen Online-Newfound Area Bureau," October 26, 2000)
|BRISTOL - While an Alexandria woman is trying to ban the reading aloud of Harry Potter books at Bristol Elementary School because she says they promote Wicca, practicing members of the religion disagree.
Local Wiccans have come out against the claim the books promote their religion. They said the book is fiction, and does not represent their beliefs in any way.
"It really doesnt have anything to do with us," said Peter Mather, an initiated Wiccan priest who lives in Plymouth.
Mather said he has examined the books and found nothing having to do with his religion.
"Ive bought these books myself for my kids," Mather said.
He said he finds no problem with them. He said a person who would ban them because they think the books promote Wicca is "another intolerant person."
"Ive read these books, since I wanted to see what was in them before I gave them to my kids, and I must say that these books no more promote witchcraft than Anne of Green Gables promotes moving to Nova Scotia," Mather said.
Wicca draws from many pagan traditions, with the result that the distinctions between witchcraft, occultism, neopaganism, and various strands thereof have become blurred. Modern witchcraft is entirely different from Satanism or the diabolical witchcraft imagined by the persecutors of past centuries, according to Encarta Encyclopedia Online.
Major Wiccan themes include love of nature, equality of male and female, appreciation of the ceremonial, a sense of wonder and belief in magic, and appreciation of the symbolism and psychological realities behind the goodness of antiquity.
Kimberly Beaupre, the New Hampshire state director of Witches Against Discrimination, echoed the opinions of Mather. She said she also did not think the books promoted anything except reading.
"The general consensus (among Wiccans) is it is fiction and in no way represents our true beliefs," Beaupre said.
She found it offensive that people come out against something like Harry Potter, but have no problems with the usual negative portrayals of witches. She said nine out of 10 times Hollywood portrays witches as evil.
"I guess its OK if we are portrayed as ugly and evil," Beaupre said.
Another Wiccan from Concord, who wished to remain anonymous, also found the claims that Harry Potter promoted witchcraft and Wicca ridiculous.
"This to me is just absurd," she said.
She said similar claims were made about Star Wars because it had the mystical energy known as "the force."
All three were surprised at the lack of tolerance shown by some people in the name of their religion.
They all agreed a fictional work should not be banned because one person fears it could promote a religion. Especially when people from that religion say there are no similarities.
"I dont believe in the Bible, but I dont want to ban it," said the Wiccan from Concord.