Harry Potter and the right to religious freedom

A Pentecostal teaching assistant who quit her job at a foundation primary school after she was disciplined for refusing to hear a child read a Harry Potter book is seeking compensation for religious discrimination. She claimed that the book glorified witchcraft. But was she right in refusing to hear the child read?

Schools should be a place where pupils or students learn to develop their personality by learning how to learn and to translate it in their lives. Among the other things, they should learn is how to express themselves and to develop or satisfy their curiosity. Teachers should be good guides. They shouldn’t come to class to stifle the learners’ desire for free expressions.

In a class, students understandably belong to different families with different social and political, religious or secular backgrounds. Teachers shouldn’t be dogmatic by seeking to impose their views on students. In society, there are forums where they can freely acquire views as long as they don’t clash with the norms. Teachers as it is the case of the teaching assistant, Sariya Allen, should keep her faith to herself, especially, her job isn’t to teach religion nor does she have the right to impose her religious views on her students. It is up to parents to choose what religious beliefs they want for them.

In some countries like France, religious signs like the cross or the hijab are banned. Students and staff keep their religions outside school. Ms Sariya Allen should know that she has a curriculum to implement as agreed upon by the school board and not in her own way as far as faith is concerned.

Stopping a child from reading from Harry Potter is in itself a campaign against a popular book, whose aim is to expand children’s imagination and to allow them to live in an imaginary world. Harry Potter isn’t the first children book to deal with witchcraft. There are good and bad witches. Following the logic of Sariya Allen, all such books should be withdrawn because of a particular view.

All in all, schools in free societies are no longer religious institutions. Teachers should move with the held principles of their societies. Schools have in majority to do with the mainstream views for the integration of all in society through training, concepts and opportunities. They aren’t meant to produce minorities whose views can lead them to open clashes or to marginalisation.

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