The wildly popular Harry Potter books and their author, J.K. Rowling, have already been blasted by Christian conservatives for glamorizing witchcraft and the occult. The fantasy series is now charged with encouraging homosexuality following the author's announcement that one of the novels' main characters is gay.
Roberta Combs, president of the 2.5 million strong Christian Coalition of America, said she was disappointed that Rowling chose to label Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as gay.
"It's not a good example for our children, who really like the books and the movies. I think it encourages homosexuality," said Combs, who has called for a ban on the seven-book series.
"I would never allow my own children or grandchildren to read the books or watch the movies, and other parents should do so too," she added, according to the U.K.-based Daily Mail newspaper.
Earlier this month at a book tour stop in New York City, Rowling was asked: "Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?"
In response, the British author said, "My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay."
"I know that it was a positive thing that I said it, for at least one person, because one man 'came out' at Carnegie Hall. I'm not kidding," she added afterwards.
Upon learning of the "outing" of the Hogwarts headmaster, many Christians who formerly had no qualms about children reading the books have reevaluted the books.
Tom Barrett, editor of Conservative Truth, reported in a column posted Monday on WEBCommentary that he has discovered hundreds of posts in chatrooms from parents and grandparents who had encouraged their kids to read the books but are now "finally starting to see the light."
"They have repented and have removed the books from their children's libraries," said Barrett. "They say they are trying to undo the damage they have done to the children by their exposure to them."
One website received over 3,000 postings in a day with many outcries from disappointed Christian fans, according to the Daily Mail.
"Not only has she destroyed a great hero, but she has tarnished the entire series," read one post.
Meanwhile, in a commentary posted on the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which has also called a ban on the Potter books, self-described cult expert Jack M. Roper reiterated past warnings from conservatives to parents over the impact that the disguised witchcraft contained in the novels may have on children.
"Over time the child can become adapted to the dark world of witchcraft and not even know that it is dangerous," he said.
"As a cult researcher for many years, I have seen contemporary witchcraft packaged in many seductive forms, and Harry Potter is the best," continued Roper.
"Potter makes spiritualism and witchcraft look wonderful."
While non-Christians may see the tales as "innocent fantasies," as Bennett noted, "Christians who understand God's condemnation of witchcraft, which is prominent throughout the Bible, should know better."
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and final of Rowling's novels on the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has been out since July 21 and has sold more than 350 million copies worldwide. It is currently on the best-sellers list of the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.