Published February 06, 2010
A pink version of the popular Ouija board game has some critics seeing red.
The children's sleepover staple — sold by Hasbro since 1967 — now comes in hot pink, an edition released two years ago that gets tweens to call on "spirits" to spell out answers to life's pressing questions.
It's designed for young girls ages 8 and older, but some say the mysterious product is a "dangerous spiritual game" that opens up anyone, particularly Christians, to attacks on their soul.
The game continues to be sold at Toys R Us locations in the U.S. and Canada for $19.99, although it's currently being "phased out," company officials say.
"There's a spiritual reality to it and Hasbro is treating it as if it's just a game," said Stephen Phelan, communications director for Human Life International, which bills itself as the largest international pro-life organization and missionary worldwide. "It's not Monopoly. It really is a dangerous spiritual game and for [Hasbro] to treat it as just another game is quite dishonest."
Phelan, who has never played the game, said the Bible explicitly states "not to mess with spirits" and that using a Ouija board will leave a person's soul vulnerable to attack.
"All Christians should know, well everyone should, that it's opening up a person to attack, spiritually," he said. "Christians shouldn't use it."
Asked how the game differed from magic kits or Harry Potter-themed merchandise, Phelan replied, "The difference is that the Ouija board is actually is a portal to talk to spirits and it's hard to get people to understand that until they actually do it. I don't pretend to know how it works, but it actually does."
Phelan also noted that the pink version of the game is explicitly marketed to young girls who may want to partake in "something dangerous" during a late-night sleepover.
"It's pink," he said. "That wouldn't appeal to me when I was 8."
The pink edition is also available for $33.99 on Amazon.com, where some commenters likened the game to occult materials targeting "tween" girls.
"Just unbelievable," one posting read. "Hasbro — you should be seriously ashamed — you have lost your way. Ouija boards are NOT 'games' and they certainly should not be marketing these to children."
Toy expert and consultant Chris Byrne said he found "absolutely nothing" wrong with any version of the game.
"And if something doesn't fit your value or belief system, you don't have to buy it," Byrne said. "There's absolutely nothing remotely Christian or un-Christian about it. I think people are projecting their belief system on it."
Byrne, who writes for timetoplaymag.com, said he was unclear of the origin of the notion that Ouija players can somehow communicate with spirits or the dead.
"That is something that people have made up and it became part of our culture," he said. "It's always been entertainment. What I remember is trying to brain my younger brother with the board because he kept moving it. It's just funny that people make up this stuff."
Hasbro officials say they have received a "couple of dozen" complaints following a recent report on the pink version. Patricia Riso, a Hasbro spokeswoman, defended the game as, well, just that.
"Our response is that Ouija is simply a game — and it is intended purely for fun and entertainment," she wrote FoxNews.com.
Bob Friedland, a spokesman for Toys R Us, said the pink Ouija version has been on clearance at its locations and is being "phased out" moving forward as new products are being introduced this year.
"There are very few pieces in our inventory in store and it is no longer available online," Friedland wrote.
In a statement to FoxNews.com, the Toy Industry Association said the game is among thousands of options to bring "fun and excitement" to children.
"TIA encourages parents to make their own choices about which products are most appropriate for their families," the statement read.
Byrne, meanwhile, said the current version of the game is not much different from the first Ouija-like game first patented by patent attorney Elijah Bond in May 1890.
"It's been a popular toy for years, and I've played it and I don't do any Macbeth-like witchcraft," he said. "It's no different from watching a scary movie or a good ghost story."