Friday, November 16, 2001

Voyager Charter School's Katie Hunt, 6, and brother Billy, 5,
dressed up last night as a witch and main character Harry
Potter to see "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" at the
Ward Theater complex. They were among the 170 guests
of Timmie Sinclair, a schoolmate's mom, who had won 200
tickets to the movie.

Harry Potter gift
gets cold reception

Some people take offense to an
offer to see the new movie

Isle Christian leaders urge caution
toward the Harry Potter film

'Harry' bewitches young crowds

By Mary Adamski

Timmie Sinclair took 200 of her family and friends to a preview of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" last night.

But it was the people who did not share the fun that captured her attention for the past week. Sinclair received dozens of derogatory and belligerent telephone calls and e-mail messages from people who decided to vent their opposition to the movie on her.

"I've been damned ... but I'm all right with that," said Sinclair, a psychologist who works as a victim's advocate. "People who call are cowardly about it; they won't give their names. They have said I'm inviting Satan into their child's life.

"My biggest gripe is, they are afraid out of sheer ignorance; it's an irrational fear of something they don't understand."

Sinclair won the private screening of the movie through an AOL contest, which she entered on behalf of her 6-year-old daughter Brynna.

She immediately invited the entire population of Brynna's school, Voyager Charter School.

That invitation, and a news report earlier this week about her winning the contest, set off the response, which may lead the Yager-Sinclair family to change their telephone number.

The current telephone number is unlisted but is available at the school, said Sinclair, which leads her to conclude that the response is from a few parents.

After hearing from people who said they are morally opposed to the movie, Sinclair said she reconfigured her invitation. Children were invited if they are accompanied by a parent. In all, 170 of the guests last night were from Voyager school.

Sinclair said she is a fan because Brynna got excited about reading books after being exposed to the series of Harry Potter books by British author J.K. Rowling.

"It's sheer fantasy. If anyone thinks kids aren't able to distinguish that! It makes you wonder what these people are afraid of. I found 99 percent of the time, they have not read the books."

Sinclair said she respects other parents' decision to skip the movie, which has generated opposition from Christians who oppose the witchcraft theme. "All they needed to do was gracefully decline."

She considered the anonymous, accusatory responses downright un-Christian. More than 100 e-mailed messages read "Jesus Saves," she said, and dozens were copies of text and graphics from an anti-Potter Web site. Despite the incoming volume, she suspects there are just a few people generating messages.

"One person sent me a link to a Web site with a sermon against the evil of Harry Potter available on cassette for $45. Who is evil here?"

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