Bishop attacks Harry Pottermania
Bristol's new bishop has attacked Harry Pottermania for turning children into consumer "slaves".
The Right Reverend Mike Hill, who was installed as Bishop of Bristol at the weekend, condemned commercial pressures that encouraged young Harry Potter fans to queue outside stores at midnight to get their hands on JK Rowling's new book.
His perspective however is at odds with those who have pointed to the positive aspects of what they see as a new awareness of the spiritual amongst young people.
Nicky Rylance, of Bristol's 2008 Capital of Culture Big Read campaign, also hit back, saying the novels had made reading fashionable again among children.
Bookshops opened from midnight on Friday to fans wanting to snap up a copy of the fifth Harry Potter book, The Order of the Phoenix.
But, in his inaugural sermon to civic leaders at Bristol Cathedral, the bishop, aged 54, who has five children, said the Potter phenomenon was in danger of turning children into "slaves to consumerism".
The bishop, Bristol's 55th, said: "It was exploitation of our children that we witnessed at midnight up and down the country. The church needs to ask some questions of the society we find ourselves in.
"Part of our responsibility is to ask questions of our culture and even at times to refuse to collude with certain aspects of it."
But John Lloyd, a spokesman for the Bristol Diocese, insisted the bishop was not attacking JK Rowling or the Harry Potter books. He said: "The bishop is not hitting out at Harry Potter.
"His concern is with the issue of commercial exploitation, when you can create an environment where children are stirred up to such a degree that they feel compelled to queue outside a shop until midnight to buy a book."
"His job is to lead the church in discussion of issues, to ask questions and not accept things as they are."
Before his inauguration, Bishop Mike, as he prefers to be known, said: "I am quite happy to say things which aren't mainstream and although I'm not a great political animal, there will be times when the church needs to speak out about certain things."