A VICAR is calling for debate over the use of fictional wizard Harry Potter as a promotional tool for the Church.

The Rev Kevin Logan, of Christ Church with Cannon Street, Accrington, said that JK Rowling's teenage hero has many similarities with Jesus Christ - but the author's references to paganism could lead children into danger.

Christian comment on the issue is being sought as Mr Logan prepares to update his book 'Paganism and the Occult'.

The Church of England has been encouraging comparisons of Harry Potter's and Jesus' admirable qualities in order to create a modern route for youngsters into Christianity.

But, speaking in his church newsletter, Mr Logan said: "Harry Potter has a wealth of virtues like loyalty, friendship, honesty, truth; the list is endless.

"Summarising the church's urgings: Jesus taught with stories, people still love them today - let's not get left behind."

Many literary critics believe JK Rowling's seven books are allegorical, and key scenes in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, mirror the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Mr Logan added: "Modern day missionaries now seem to have a ready-made myth on which to hang the conversion of today's mainly pagan younger gener-ation."

However, Mr Logan is concerned that the books' setting in the world of witchcraft could be detrimental to any Christian message.

"The Potter epic encourages kids to be curious in an area that God forbids," he said. "It is also an encouragement to the vulnerable and under-age to learn more of paganism and the occult, which have a track record of emotional and spiritual damage."

JK Rowling has admitted she is a Christian and that the books do have a religious undertone.

In an interview in 2000, she said: "Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do.

"If I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books."

Mr Logan can be contacted at kevinlogan@fish.co.uk or call 01254 235089.