Harry Potter as Anti-Christian

“When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you. “

Deuteronomy 18:9–12

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as an Anti-Christian Novel

                The wide spread popularity of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling caught the attention of many Christian groups whose children showed interest in the book about the young boy wizard. Many groups began to voice their concerns over potential anti-Christian sentiments and immorality in the novel that was inappropriate for children. The list of accusations includes the following:

  • The book promotes witchcraft and the occult
  • The book promotes rule-breaking, disrespectful behaviour and immorality
  • Reading the novel could lead to a desensitization to un-Christian behaviour
  • The book favours magical peoples over non-magical peoples
  • Belief in fantastical story-telling will result in lying and deceitful behaviour
  • Children may make heroes of Harry and disassociate themselves with the real world

 

       These arguments have been voiced by various people around the world which include religious leaders, authors, school representatives and groups which speak for concerned Christians. What lies at the heart of the religious objections is the belief that witchcraft, occultism and Satan are a real and threatening evil to today’s society. The usage and acceptance of the magic that is in the Harry Potter books has caused concern that children will see these practices, or any real world practices that are similar, as desirable.

        In an interview with CBN.com, author Richard Abanes remarked that, “One of the easiest ways to know whether a fantasy book or film has real world magic in it is to just ask a simple question: ‘Can my child find information in a library or bookstore that will enable them to replicate what they are seeing in the film or the book?’ If you go to The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings what you see in, story magic and imagination, it is not real. You can’t replicate it. But if you go to something like Harry Potter, you can find references to astrology, clairvoyance, and numerology. It takes seconds to go into a bookstore or library and get books on that and start investigating it, researching it, and doing it”. Many concerned Christians feel the same way. They believe that Rowling’s world has an element of reality that is different from the wand-waving in Cinderella and that the fact that these all-to-real practices are hidden under a fantastical storyline makes it more appealing and acceptable to children. It is the ensnaring way in which the books are written to cover the hidden occultism which makes them so dangerous to easily-influenced children. Jessica Ruemles, a patron of Living Water Christian Books says of the book:  ‘It opens the doors for young minds. You put sorcery in, what do you expect to get out?'”

                A more extreme view, suggested in the above cartoon, is that the books are a gateway to Satan and hell. For instance, Joseph Chambers (2007) wrote, “Without question I believe the Harry Potter series is a creation of hell helping prepare the younger generation to welcome the Biblical prophecies of demons and devils led by Lucifer himself.” Rowling has been quoted as saying that Harry popped into her head fully-formed on the train one day which led Chambers to suggest that the image was put there by Satan. He concludes by saying, “the Harry Potter books are just another means [of Satan] of blinding millions to the truth.”*A clip from the documentary Jesus Camp

                The other main argument that comes up in  the fight against Harry is that the books promote immoral behviour. Many have cited evidence from the book that Harry and his friends often disregard the rules and show little hesitation to do so such as exploring the school at night, entering forbidden areas, and practicing magic when they are not supposed to. Abanes also argues that, “A truly “good” person would follow the rules and use “good” to stop evil, not behave the same as the evil characters. Otherwise, the project is corrupted and the “good” people end up just as bad as the evil ones. Evil should not be fought with evil because once you get used to using evil, even for ostensibly “good” ends, it’s hard to stop. Children who read the books are thus being taught the wrong lessons about ethics and ethical behavior.”

       He also claims that the bad guys in the book are so inexplicably evil that anybody would look good compared to them. Hence the notion that rule-breaking is ok as long as you are not wholly evil: “Rowling has made Voldemort, Pettigrew, and the Death Eaters so repulsive that the immoral deeds of Harry and the other “good” characters have an appearance of benevolence, fun, and virtue. The result is a tacit acceptance of less evil characters as simply “good” ones.”

       Elizabeth Heilman, an associate professor of teacher education at Michigan State University and the editor of “Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter  “you don’t see Harry Potter ever taking up a cause for the sake of the downtrodden. He’s really a reluctant hero, and I’m not convinced the narrative has him effectively going beyond personal motives.” This is a point that has also been argued by the Christian right who state that many of Harry’s actions seem like they are for the greater good but are often fuelled by his hatred of Voldemort and his need for revenge.

 

         The argument continues in churches, schools, and religious groups but the bottom line seems to be that God does not distinguish between good and bad magic and that any practice of magic is an abomination of Him.

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