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The Harry Potter™ books

More negative reviews
by conservative Christians


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This essay is a continuation of another list of negative views.
See also a list of positive responses by Christians.


Reviews:

  • Focus on the Family, another fundamentalist Christian agency, published an undated article by analyst Lindy Beam that was copyrighted in 2000. Beam has some positive remarks about the Potter series:

    • "...a standard tale of good vs. evil, and good always wins in the end." 

    • "Harry...often triumphs because of his upright character and pure motives." 

    • "Unconditional love and courage are held as ideals"

    • "...glimpse of true loyalty and friendship, as well as self-sacrifice."

    But there are some concerns as well:

    • "Magical characters--witches, wizards, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists" appear.

    • There are violent battle scenes at the end of two of the books.

    • There are references to blood, murder, death.

    • There are several references to swearing, including a few "damns."

    • The use of alcoholic beverages is excused on occasion. 1

    The reviewer expresses a concern that children might become interested in the charms and spells which appear in the books and later explore witchcraft and the occult -- an activity which the reviewer believes "is neither harmless nor imaginary."

    The Boston Globe reported in late 2001-DEC that Focus "offers a lengthy analysis of the Rowling...debate on its Web site, concludes that the 'Harry Potter' books pose 'serious dangers,' saying that: 'No matter what the essence of Harry's magic, the effect of it is undoubtedly to raise curiosity about magic and wizardry. And any curiosity raised on this front presents a danger that the world will satisfy it with falsehood, before the church or the family can satisfy it with truth.' '' 2,3

  • Church of England: Officials at the Canterbury Cathedral rejected Warner Brothers' request to photograph some of its Harry Potter movie inside the cathedral. Spokesman Rev. John Simpson said that: "For ourselves, we did not think the books posed problems. But other people might take offence and so we had to say no." The Toronto Star newspaper headed the article with the caption "Beware of Muggles with narrow minds."

  • Jeremiah Films: Filmmaker Caryl Matrisciana has produced a 60 minute video called: Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged - Making Evil Look Innocent. It attacks the Harry Potter books from a Fundamentalist Christian perspective. More details.

  • Chick Publications: Jack Chick has created a pair of cartoon booklets, one in English and a translated Spanish version. 4 It is titled "The nervous Witch." It implies that:

    • modern-day Wiccans,

    • Sorceresses mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and

    • the "woman who has a familiar spirit" from Endor (also mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures,

    are all following the same spiritual path.

    However, in reality:

    • Modern-day Wiccans follow an earth-centered religious tradition which prohibits harming others;

    • Witches in the Hebrew Scriptures were people who used verbal curses to harm others, and

    • The woman at Endor specialized in being able to make contact with the dead.

    There is no real connection among the three. The booklet states that two teenage Wiccans were being controlled by indwelling demonic spirits -- a view not shared by mental health professionals. One of the Wiccans, Samantha, is exorcised and the demonic spirit leaves her. She immediately asks Jesus into her heart and is saved. Later, she explained that she got into The Craft (i.e. Wicca) "Through the Harry Potter books! We wanted his powers...so we called for spirit guides. Then they came into us." In reality, spirit guides are unrelated to the Witchcraft in the Harry Potter books and are not sought by Wiccans. They are a New Age phenomenon. Her uncle said: "Samantha, the Potter books open a doorway that will put untold millions of kids into hell." This is a common belief among some conservative Christians that if an individual engages in certain behaviors then it can open a "door" which allows Satan or his demons to take over their body. Such behaviors include Wicca, playing with Ouija boards, crystals, tarot cards, runes, etc. Some even believe that having a pentagram symbol in the house gives the Devil the legal right to attack and indwell the occupants of the home.

  • Commentary by Tim Haddock of the Daily News, Los Angeles: Haddock noted that conservative Christians frequently criticize the Harry Potter books because of their references to witchcraft, Paganism, curses and hexes. However, the feels that these "factions of Christianity miss their mark." They should be criticizing author J.K. Rowling for her concepts of life after death, which deviates significantly from orthodox Christianity.

    Elsewhere on this website, we explain the diversity of beliefs that Christians have about salvation and the afterlife, including Heaven, Hell, Limbo, and Purgatory including those of:

    • Most Conservative Protestants: One must repent of their sins and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior to be saved and attain heaven.

    • A minority of conservative Protestants: Repentance is not needed since it is a personal "good work," and good works don't count towards salvation. One needs only trust Jesus.

    • Roman Catholics: They need to receive church rituals (baptism, confession, etc.)

    • Popular beliefs: They need to have led a good life where their good deeds outnumber the bad.

    In her sixth book, Rowling describes the late Albus Dumbledore, headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as residing in Limbo where he is between life and death. Limbo was once widely believed by Roman Catholics to be a place where embryos, fetuses, newborns and infants who die before being baptized live in comfort. They are believed to be without the presence of God; they never grow up into adulthood. However, Limbo has never been an official belief promulgated by the church. In contrast, Rowling's Limbo is apparently for adults. It allows its inhabitants to communicate with the living. Her afterlife is for everyone, whether they are saved or not; whether Christian or not. It is a better existence than life on Earth. Haddock writes:

"In the world of Harry Potter, dying is not something that needs to be feared. Those who are afraid of dying become corrupted, misguided, lost and alone."

"Dumbledore is the best example of what happens to Rowling's characters who embrace the thought of an afterlife. They take chances. They challenge authority. Most importantly, they aren't afraid to fail. Dumbledore turns out to be a failure in many ways, but it doesn't affect his place in the afterlife. He may have regrets, but he would not trade his afterlife for a chance to return among the living."

"Harry gets to make that choice - to be dead or alive. In that sense, he is much luckier than any of us will ever be."

"That moment when Harry gets to decide if he wants to live or die best illustrates Rowling's struggle with the concept of life after death. 'The truth is that, like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes that my faith will return,' Rowling said. 'It's something I struggle with a lot'." 5

  • Review by Marcia Montenegro of Christian Answers for the New Age (CANA): Montenegro is a former professional astrologer who became a conservative Christian as a result of a religious conversion in 1990. She notes that the Harry Potter books have a consistently un-Christian approach to death. The books send a number of messages:
    • Death is an adventure.
    • There are worse things than death.
    • Pagan views are promoted as reality.
    • Humans can communicate with the dead.
    • Death is an old friend.
    • Death is easier than falling asleep.
    • One can "master" death. 6

Related essay on this web site:


References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Lindy Beam, "What Shall We Do With Harry?, Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/
  2. Michael Paulson, "Religious ratings: Christian conservatives prefer Frodo to Harry," Boston Globe, 2001-DEC-27, at: http://www.boston.com/
  3. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Focus on the Family, at: " http://www.family.org/
  4. Jack T. Chick, "The Nervous Witch," at: http://www.chick.com/
  5. Tim Haddock, "Rowling's Christian critics miss the mark," Daily News, LA, 2007-OCT-18, at:
    http://www.dailynews.com/
  6. Marcia Montenegro, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Is death still the next great adventure?" CANA, 2007-AUG, at: http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Harry Potter > here


Copyright © 2000 to 2007, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JUL-3
Latest update: 2007-OCT-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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