A new Disney book series for adolescent girls aptly named W.I.T.C.H. promotes witchcraft and magic, a development that adds to the arsenal of those who criticize the company for being anti-family.

“Mickey Mouse leading children to Hell” is the headline on one website alerting readers to the new books.

“[The books are] about five teenage girls (ages 13-14) who practice witchcraft. Disney is not only selling witchcraft, they are selling lust and astrology – to children! Look at the way they have them dressed!” shouts the site.

According to a statement from Disney Publishing Worldwide, the book series was introduced in the U.S. last month after years of success in other nations.

“Since W.I.T.C.H. was first introduced in Italy in 2001, we have experienced an unprecedented global response to the characters and the concept,” said Robert Iger, president and COO of The Walt Disney Company. “W.I.T.C.H. is a great example of Disney’s ability to create and launch exciting properties in different parts of the world and by the many talented people at Disney’s different divisions. Its expansion into the world’s largest market through multiple business units of the company should ensure duplicating the success it has seen around the world.”

The nine-book series is patterned after “the fastest growing girls’ comic magazine in the world, published monthly in over 64 markets and in 27 languages,” Disney says.

The name W.I.T.C.H. is comprised of the first initials of the five girls who are “ordinary friends with an extraordinary secret – they each have the power to control a natural element.”

Said the Disney statement: “Will controls energy, Irma commands water, Taranee has power over fire, Cornelia controls earth, and Hay Lin dominates air. The girls use their powers to guard against evil and to uncover the truth behind mysterious portals leading to other worlds.”

The critical site, ac18.org, claims the books “no doubt will begin a gradual progression toward the occult practice for some young people. Satan wants nothing more than for a person’s life to be filled with things that appear to have meaning, but in the end have none and keep a person from tasting the truth. He tries to use a world filled with illusions and fantasies … to fill our lives with things that only deceive and bear no fruit.”

On the W.I.T.C.H. website, each of the five girls has a page with a bulletin board that provides information about them. Among other things, each board contains a sign announcing that person’s astrological sign.

Disney claims 50 fan websites have begun in response to the “W.I.T.C.H. phenomenon,” and that a major consumer-products campaign is under way to respond to “tweens … clamoring for more W.I.T.C.H.”

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