- Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
- Melissa Joan Hart recently discussed her Christianity on the podcast “Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris.”
- The former “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” star said she warned her 6-year-old son about non-Christians before he switched from a Christian preschool to a traditional school.
- “We don’t know if these people are good people. We don’t know if they believe in Jesus,” she said. “And he really took the Jesus part to heart.”
- She also said she had “heated” conversations with a Jewish boy’s mother after he became friends with her son.
- Some people are calling her remarks anti-Semitic or otherwise generally offensive against people of non-Christian religions.
Melissa Joan Hart recently told her 6-year-old son to be wary of people who don’t believe in Jesus, which has sparked backlash online.
The former “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” star discussed her Christianity on a new episode of the podcast “Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris.”
‘We don’t know if people believe in Jesus, so we don’t know their character’
Hart said she warned her son, whom she raises as a Presbyterian Christian, about people from other faiths before he switched from a Christian preschool to a traditional school.
“We don’t know if these people are good people. We don’t know if they believe in Jesus,” she said, as reported by USA Today. “And he really took the Jesus part to heart.”
After Hart’s son made friends with a Jewish boy, he asked his mother, “If you’re Jewish, how do you get to heaven?”
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Hart said she had some “heated” discussions with the Jewish boy’s mother after their children reached sixth grade: “Some problems came out of that,” she said, but did not elaborate.
Hart said that she reflected upon the warning she gave her son, but did not say whether she regretted it or not.
“When the mom called me with a problem in sixth grade I was like well, ‘Do I regret telling my son that we don’t know if people believe in Jesus, so we don’t know their character?'” she told Faris. “‘Is that a wrong thing to say? Did I set my son on the wrong path or was that the right thing to say and I should defend that?”
Critics are calling the story anti-Semetic and offensive
Many critics online blasted Hart for being anti-Semetic because “her specific example was involving a Jewish child.”
Dear Melissa Joan Hart, posing the antisemitism you are teaching your children as a question, does not make you any less of an anti-Semite. https://t.co/xG88Z5hmXg
— Wombat, CAGCast Co-host (@NewWombat) January 3, 2019
Holy crap that's some casually dropped anti-semitism in a completely mainstream fluff piece… this is fairly terrifying and just gross.
— Clint Sears (@clintisawesome) January 3, 2019
@joelleg0ldstein @people Joelle I read your @MelissaJoanHart piece. I found her questioning of Jews & their beliefs/character to be quite offensive. It’s anti Semitic & worse she’s raising her kids to be anti Semitic. Didn’t the Pittsburgh temple massacre teach anyone anything?
— Marissa Levin, CEO (@marissalevin) January 3, 2019
Others criticized Hart more generally for suggesting that anyone who’s not a Christian cannot be a good person.
— Joyce Wagner (@JoyceWagner) January 4, 2019
It does seem less antisemitism, and more antianythingthatisntherbrandofchristianism. Less specific, still gross. There are plenty of 'Christians' who have, er, very poor character. Not a super good test, donchaknow.
— Ulmeck (@Ulm01) January 3, 2019
I'm pretty sure assuming someone's character over one factor is poor character in itself.
— Addison Webb (@RwebbA) January 3, 2019
WHY IS SHE LIKE THIS https://t.co/w6frVKFz8X
— Happy Houlidays (@RyanHoulihan) January 3, 2019
Psychologists recommend for parents to approach religion ‘with a curious and respectful attitude’
Hart, who has previously said it’s “scary” to be a Christian in Hollywood, also told Faris she stressed the importance of “respecting each other’s beliefs and listening to each other” after she spoke with her son’s friend’s mother.
How to speak with children about religion is not an uncommon parenting decision. Psychologist Wendy Mogel told Parents that it’s important to approach discussions about religion with children from a place of understanding, respect, and tolerance.
“With different theologies leading to different practices and celebrations, it’s an education for kids, as long as parents can approach it with a curious and respectful attitude instead of saying, ‘Our way is right and their way is wrong,'” Mogel, who has a background in Judaism, told Parents.
“You also need to say to your child that all religions have things about them that are great, and we celebrate that because it’s part of who we are and who other people are,” psychologist Susan Bartell also told Parents.
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