Parents were upset after their middle school children were assigned a poem that compared God to a unicorn.
Dozens of sixth-graders at a Polk County Middle School in Georgia were assigned a poem to read that drew comparisons between God, fictional character Harry Potter and unicorns, according to WAGA-TV. Teachers at the middle school clarified the context of the poem as a lesson in Greek mythology, and said no offense was meant.
"God is like a mythical creature," begins the poem, before making comparisons to a unicorn. "It makes a good story in a book, like Harry Potter."
Officials at Cedartown Middle School said they understood how the poem could be offensive to some, certainly when taken out of the original context.
"This was a mistake," said Cedartown Principal Shannon Hulsey. "In no way whatsoever would we want to defame God or go anywhere in that direction at the school."
The teachers noted that the poem was distributed as part of the Greek mythology curriculum and sought to have students draw comparisons between the poem and other short stories of Greek gods. The unicorn was meant to represent a "happy and safe place."
"Looking back at it from a parent's point of view they can certainly understand where parents were upset," said Hulsey. She said the poem was part of a larger lesson plan and this particular selection was simply taken from a folder.
The school district also felt the need to clarify the school's position, stating that in no way did they mean to disparage anyone's religion.
"We recognize that it was an unfortunate mistake to have included the work as part of our classes here at our school,” read a statement from the Polk County school district, according to Fox News.
"We had meaningful conversations and believe that the inclusion of this article to have been made not by malicious intent nor the desire to denounce the faith or beliefs of any of our students, staff or community members,” it continued.
It was not clear if the mythology program will end as a result of this backlash, although the poem will likely not be taught again.
"The idea of God makes young children laugh and feel safe at night,” the poem reads. "But when you grow older and see the evil in the world and the face of death like a shadow behind the eyes of every living thing, then where is God?"