Is Harry Potter the problem? Recently there has been an upsurge in the Christian community over Harry Potter when a Catholic school banned the books. I am a Christian and so I’ve become familiar with my faith’s condemnation of not just Harry Potter but the fantasy genre as a whole.
Yes, I’m familiar with the verses often cited as reasons for avoiding fantasy and especially Harry Potter, no they aren’t applicable. Harry Potter is often accused of having “real” magic spells and even demonic names attached to it. Despite one priest’s claims, these are unsubstantiated, especially with the claim that Harry Potter caused a house to catch fire. Umm, with a worldwide best seller in so many homes, wouldn’t it stand to reason that this would be a wider spread phenomenon? Heck the crying boy painting has more strange fires attached to it than the Harry Potter books, and there are far less of the paintings.
To be completely frank, the arguments against Harry Potter have been emotionally based without any facts. Some are even based on urban legends such as using “real” spells. If anyone spends five minutes doing research one can find that the spells are simply gibberish with bits of Latin thrown in. Spreading these rumors (including the one about blaming the house fire on the books) only makes us Christians look silly and supersites to the outside world.
We don’t have to look at Harry Potter if we want to address real issues in the world. Why is Harry Potter getting so much attention but not Game of Thrones? Certainly, the latter has far darker subject matter, filled with gratuitous violence and sexuality. Before someone raises the argument that GoT isn’t geared towards kids (which is technically true) but you’d be surprised how many underaged fans there are of the series.
Before someone asks, no I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan. I occasionally enjoy the movies with my family, but I don’t consider myself a part of the fandom. I am a much bigger fan of Narnia and Middle-Earth, but I have objectively observed FAR more occult-inspired themes in those books than Harry Potter.
A large number of Christians morally oppose Harry Potter. That’s fine, Paul makes it clear that certain things will affect people’s consciences more than others. If you’re a Christian who enjoys Harry Potter, but you watch/read it in front of someone who is sensitive to it, then that person is in sin. If someone is sensitive to Harry Potter or doesn’t have an interest in it, that is fine. The problem comes in when people try to make their personal convictions Biblical truth.
Does Harry Potter turn kids to Wicca? Perhaps one could find a few examples where the books inspired kids to change religions, but this is no more of a problem than video games turning people into serial killers. The facts simply aren’t there, and as Christians truth does matter. Part of being human means it is easy to get swept up into groupthink, but all must resist spreading rumors and believing unsubstantiated claims, Christian or not. This is a great example of how we need to examine our beliefs continually so we understand why we believe them and if they are worthy of holding onto still.