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Church Recruits Harry Potter to Spread the Word

Church leaders are using the magic of Harry Potter to help spread the Christian message. In the past Harry Potter books and movies have been attacked by evangelicals for 'glamorising the occult.' But now a guide published by the Church of England advises youth workers how to use the wizardry of fantasy novelist J. K. Rowling as a launch pad for exploring Bible themes. The publication of the guide by Church House Publishing comes with the release of the final Potter book 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. Youth leaders are being told they can use the popularity of the Potter series to spread the word of God. This is a shift in emphasis for the Church, which up to now had not always been sympathetic to the Potter magic. Canterbury Cathedral shot down a request to become a location for the first film, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, for fear of upsetting Christians. But in recent years, the Harry Potter phenomenon has won fans from among leading Church figures, including former archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey. He described the film as "great fun" and a serious examination of good and evil. Another Potter convert is the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, who described Harry Potter author JK Rowling as a "great storyteller". He reminded people that Jesus used storytelling to engage and challenge his listeners. Author of the guide, 24-year-old youth worker Owen Smith, said: "The magic in the books is simply part of the magic that JK Rowling has created. "To say, as some have, that these books draw younger readers towards the occult seems to me both to malign JK Rowling and to vastly underestimate the ability of children and young people to separate the real from the imaginary."