November 17, 2005

"Narnia" Reading Contest Forces Christian Message

Complaint: 'Narnia' reading contest forces Christian message on students - - Top News

This is an interesting story that is sure to be met with diverse reactions. My initial reaction was that this was a mistake by Americans United. Attacking a book because one doesn't like the message reminded me too much of what the Christian right has done with Harry Potter. If reading such a book will encourage children to read, shouldn't we promote it?

After continued reflection, I'm not so sure that this case really parallels the Harry Potter situation. It is well known that the Narnia books have a powerfully Christian message and intent by the author. While Harry Potter is sometimes interpreted as demonic in nature, I found no trace of this when I read the first book in the series. In addition, interviews with the author certainly don't support the idea that this is her intent.

Of course, the real issue here is religion in public schools. In this contest, students are given the option of one book. It happens to be a book designed to promote Christianity. See the problem now? This is exactly what isn't supposed to happen in public schools, even in Florida.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

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