Faith has been an important part of Melissa Joan Hart's life, and she credits it for helping her stay grounded and overcome the most difficult challenges, including losing a few loved ones.
"I feel like every time something bad has happened, I’ve come out of it because of my faith," she said on a recent appearance on the Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris podcast. "It’s for a purpose He has. It’s His will be done."
Hart, who identifies as a Presbyterian Christian, is now making sure to pass on her beliefs to her children, so they too can have Jesus to rely on when the going gets tough.
However, some of the lessons she has imparted on one of her kids have recently put the Sabrina the Teenage Witch alum at the receiving end of some serious backlash.
While reflecting on the challenges that come with raising her children as Christians, Hart recalled a time when her son had to transfer from a Christian to a secular school.
Before his first day, the mother of three told her then six-year-old son that there was no way of knowing his new classmates would have "good" characters because they're not Christian.
"'We don’t know if these people are good people,'" the 42-year-old explained at the time. "'We don’t know if they believe in Jesus… and he really took the Jesus part to heart.’"
Hart's son came home one day wondering how a Jewish boy he befriended would get to heaven if he wasn't Christian. The situation later led to a "heated" conversation between Hart and the boy's mother and "some problems came out of that."
“When the mom [of the child] 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 asked. “‘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?'”
But that phone conversation wouldn't be the last time that Hart would have to defend her words. After the episode aired, the actress was accused of antisemetism.
"I found her questioning of Jews & their beliefs/character to be quite offensive," read one tweet. "It’s antisemitic & worse she’s raising her kids to be antisemitic. Didn’t the Pittsburgh temple massacre teach anyone anything?”
"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," wrote one Twitter user.
One person found it ironic that Hart was comfortable portraying a witch on television despite identifying as a Christian.
"Respectfully @MelissaJoanHart, as a Christian how is it ok for you to play a witch on TV but not feel comfortable with your children fraternizing with non Christians? [sic]"
In a lengthy Instagram comment, Hart finally responded to accusations, clarifying that she "never said Christians are superior."
"I’ve been studying religion for the past 8 years and am learning more everyday. I try to never judge anyone… unless they put ice in their wine… but I was simply telling my son that we knew the people at his old school, even down to their faith beliefs. The new kids in school, we didn’t know a thing about so he was going to have to judge for himself. In the podcast I talk about how he focused in on the Jesus part and it opened up discussions with friends and neighbors that might be a tricky for children to navigate. I never said Christians are superior. Just trying to explain better."
Hart shares three sons Mason, 12, Braydon, 10, and Tucker, 6, with her husband, musician Mark Wilkerson.