Harry Potter as Having No Religious Content

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as Having No Religious Content

                While the arguments have been made that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is anti-Christian as well as a Christian allegory, many more people believe that the books have no religious message or content in them whatsoever. In fact, the name of God is only used once in the entire book by Professor McGonagall in the first chapter as part of an expression. No person is defined as belonging to any religion and while Christian holidays are observed at the school, they are not seen as an opportunity to celebrate Christ.  The holidays, had they been religious celebrations would not fit with the secular world of magic and hence they are seen from a child’s perspective as a chance to receive gifts and eat lots of food. In fact, Harry Potter does not even associate any of its characters with the Wiccan religion and actually pokes fun at practices such as divination in books further into the series. In an article published by Time magazine entitled, “Who Dies in Harry Potter? God”, journalist Lev Grossman argues that the world of Harry Potter is free of any religious expression:

       “Harry Potter lives in a world free of any religion or spirituality of any kind. He lives surrounded by ghosts but has no one to pray to, even if he were so inclined, which he isn’t. Rowling has more in common with celebrity atheists like Christopher Hitchens than she has with Tolkien and Lewis.

What does Harry have instead of God? Rowling’s answer, at once glib and profound, is that Harry’s power comes from love. This charming notion represents a cultural sea change. In the new millennium, magic comes not from God or nature or anything grander or more mystical than a mere human emotion. In choosing Rowling as the reigning dreamer of our era, we have chosen a writer who dreams of a secular, bureaucratized, all-too-human sorcery, in which psychology and technology have superseded the sacred.”

       Like Grossman suggests, Harry’s inspiration is love which is a theme not found just in Christian writings but also in various myths and folklore around the world.

 

       The image above is taken from the popular comedy website, The Onion, whose response to the religious debate was to create a spoof article citing the dangerous religious influence of the Harry Potter series. As the picture indicates, the articles intention was to draw attention to the overestimated belief in the book’s ability to sway children toward one belief or another.

       As far as the religious beliefs of J. K. Rowling are concerned, she is a member of the Christian faith but does not admit that her books support or refute Christianity in any way. She has stated that she does not believe in magic “in the sense” that she expresses in her books. Harry Potter an the Philosopher’s Stone, then, may not relate to Christianity any way in particular but may be a tale which deals with the larger themes of world literature.


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