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The Poplar Bluff Public Library constructively fired an assistant because her religious beliefs prohibited her from working on "Harry Potter Night," Deborah Smith claims in Federal Court.

Smith says her Southern Baptist Church prohibits promotion of the worship of the occult. She considers Harry Potter part of the occult.

Smith says she told her supervisor she could not take part in the library's "Harry Potter Night" on July 20, 2007 to promote the release of the latest book in the series. But, she says, library director Jacqueline Thomas told her she would have to work behind the scenes, out of sight of other church members, and questioned Smith's sincerity, the suit states.

When Smith refused, Thomas suspended her without pay for 10 days. Upon Smith's return, her hours were cut and she was demoted to shelving, a more physically demanding job, she says.

Smith says she had to resign due to the physical demands. She claims the City of Poplar Bluff and Thomas caused her to lose income, suffer physical and emotional distress and humiliation and violated her constitutional rights to freedom of religion. Smith seeks punitive damages and is represented by Anthony Rothert of St. Louis. Poplar Bluff is 150 miles south of St. Louis.


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