The ‘Harry Potter’ book and film series may be a pop-culture juggernaut generating billions of dollars around the world, but not everyone is thrilled with the adventures of the young wizards.
Religious fundamentalists, particularly Evangelical Christians, have long railed against J.K. Rowling’s handiwork, largely because they associate wizardry and magic with witchcraft and Satanism.
Essentially, Christians fear that the film-makers are presenting witchcraft in an appealing and attractive manner to impressionable young minds, without showing its inherent dangers.
Before the first ‘Potter’ film was released, there were various efforts by church groups to remove the books from public libraries.
Elizabeth Mounce, a conservative Christian from South Carolina, told reporters a decade ago: “The Potter books have a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect and sheer evil.”
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Critics have also charged that the ‘Potter’ books and films celebrate paganism.
Paul Hetrick, spokesman for Focus on the Family, an American Evangelical Christian group in Colorado, once said: [The Potter series contain] some powerful and valuable lessons about love and courage and the ultimate victory of good over evil; however, the positive messages are packaged in a medium – witchcraft – that is directly denounced in Scripture.
Jeremiah Films, a Christian video company, once released a DVD entitled Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged which claimed that: Harry's world says that drinking dead animal blood gives power, a satanic human sacrifice and Harry's powerful blood brings new life, demon possession is not spiritually dangerous, and that passing through fire, contacting the dead, and conversing with ghosts, others in the spirit world, and more, is normal and acceptable.
Robert McGee, associate pastor for discipleship at First Baptist Church, Merritt Island, Fla., once blasted Potter in an opinion column in the Baptist Press news service.
He wrote: God has declared the very practices He presented in Harry Potter an abomination (see Deuteronomy 18). When individuals use the power of witchcraft, they are using demonic power and opening themselves to demons. Unfortunately many Christians appear to believe that God's warnings about witchcraft are worthless, as they have concluded that witchcraft is just a bad use of imagination and nothing else.
McGee added: This is a crucial victory for Satan and has put our children in great danger.”
It was even alleged that Rowling was denied a Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush’s administration because she was viewed as promoting witchcraft.
Perhaps the most Evangelical Christian in the world, Ned Flanders, a character on “The Simpsons” television cartoon denounced Potter. He declared: “Harry Potter and all his wizard friends, went straight to hell for practicing witchcraft!!”
However, given the enormous and sustained popularity of Harry Potter, it is doubtful such views have wide currency, even among far-right Christians.