LEWISTON — Millions worldwide were lining up for their chance to catch a midnight showing of the summer’s most anticipated blockbuster, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Meanwhile, a small crowd gathered in Lewiston to discuss witchcraft influences and overtones of the teen wizard series.

Watch out, Harry Potter fans — the Rev. Doug Taylor and his Jesus Party are battling for your souls.

“There is a battle raging for the minds of our children, and it’s a moral battle,” said Taylor, founder of the local ministry that aims to reach out to area youth. “J.K. Rowling has truly bridged the gap between magical make-believe and paganism.” Rowling is the author of the seven “Harry Potter” novels.

Taylor hosted a protest Tuesday on the eve of the release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth installment in the wildly popular movie franchise based on the beloved children’s series. Armed with a movie of his own, the documentary “Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged — Making Evil Look Innocent,” Taylor resurrected his public stand that parents and schools should closely examine the occult influences found in the books and ban them.

Taylor and his group gained national notoriety in 2001 following a public protest in Kennedy Park that drew dozens of people from both sides and came to blows. The scene ended with Taylor’s group ripping up “Harry Potter” books and an individual from the opposition shredding a Bible.

In keeping with his tradition, Taylor opened the evening by tearing the pages from a hard-covered copy of a “Harry Potter” book.

“Harry Potter teaches witchcraft to children through children,” author Robert McGee said in the documentary. “It’s teaching children that witchcraft is something attainable. When a child is captured by witchcraft, they rarely choose to get out until much later in life, after they’ve led a very miserable life.”

McGee and fellow author Caryl Matrisciana, an expert on world religions, sects and cults, urged viewers to closely examine the pagan symbols and references riddling the “Harry Potter” books. Their examples included everything from spells, shape-changing, curses, drinking animal (unicorn) blood to references to Nazism, possession, phallic symbols and “dark arts.”

“I didn’t come here to argue,” said Emily Fuller, 18, of Lisbon, the lone opposing voice at the meeting. “My friends and I came here to hear your views. I firmly believe it’s just a book. Reading ‘Harry Potter’ has never interrupted my life. My friends and I have never cast a spell.”

Fuller pointed out that she recently graduated from high school, took advanced placement courses in school, was a varsity cheerleader and plans to attend college this fall. Never at any time, she said, did she feel the need to explore occult practices because she read about Harry Potter, Hogwarts and Diagon Alley.

The main thrust of the hour-long documentary centered on the fact that witchcraft is recognized by the government as a religion with tax-exempt status. Given this designation and the national stand of separation of church and state, the documentary contended that “Harry Potter” should not be allowed to be taught in school because of its religious overtones.

Taylor agreed and pointed out that the schools would never teach the same story if it were about a bunch of Christians going to Bible school and learning to spread God’s word. He said that even bookstores are selling books, wand kits and other novelty items aimed at drawing young people to the occult, thanks to “Harry Potter” mania.

“I would not look foolish tonight if every church in town would take a stand against witchcraft,” Taylor said as he ripped the book. “And because nobody else will, that’s why I do it.”


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