Effects of Religious Debate on Popularity and Audience

The Effects of the Debate on Readership and Popularity of the Harry Potter Series

       One might ask if the widespread debate and religious backlash against the Harry Potter series has had any effect on the overall acceptance of the book on a national and international level. The short answer is no. The final book in the Harry Potter series was the quickest selling book of all time, moving 11 million units in its first twenty four hours, and the subsequent films have become the highest grossing film series of all time, surpassing the James Bond series as well as Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings, and all before the final two films have even hit theatres. It is safe to say that while the religious debate is known to many of the fans of Harry Potter, those who would ban it or try to convince people not to read it, are floundering in their attempt to defeat the popularity of the franchise.

                That being said, Christian groups have had success in their attempts to ban the books from schools and ultimately from the eyes and ears of their children.  Their success in not only in the American South either, the books have been banned in states across America as well as in Australia and England, not to mention the locations that are predominately Islamic which have also banned the books. The Harry Potter books have been the most challenged in recent years and have topped “Most Banned” lists. Some school boards, reacting to complaints from parents, teachers, and board members alike, successfully banned the book from classrooms and libraries. In places such as Leeland, Michigan and Cedarville, Arkansas, children needed written permission from their parents to check out the book from the library.  Some churches and organizations have even organized mass book burnings to protest the release of subsequent books.

“Harry Potter” Book Burning. Alamogordo, New Mexico. 2001

                All of these attempts to ban the boy wizard have not gone without challenge.  In April, 2003, the Cedarville school district was court ordered to replace the Harry Potter books on the library shelves. This is not the only instance in which the court refused to ban the books. Courts all over America have upheld the rights of the students, stating the right to receive information and ideas to be a part of their rights of free speech and press.

                The success of the religious protests seems to have only stretched as far as the family unit, and like-minded Christian groups and churches. The popularity of Harry Potter has created a cultural phenomenon which only promises to get bigger with the release of the final two movies in the coming months.


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