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Stories involving the Harry Potter
series of children's books

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J.K. Rowling has written the most popular series of children's books in history. They are fictional and involve a mythical character -- a wizard-in-training named Harry Potter. The books describe his exciting experiences during training at Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry -- a special school of witchcraft in Scotland -- starting at the age of 11.

Unfortunately, the words "witch," "wizard," and "witchcraft" have at least 17 different meanings in the English language. Among these definitions are three of greatest interest here:

bulletRowling writes creative fiction for children. Her books describe imaginary witchcraft, involving a culture involving flying broomsticks, unicorns, invisibility cloaks, wizards, etc. This is purely imaginary writing, and is unrelated to real people, locations and events.
bulletThe terms are often used by followers of Wicca and other Neopagan religions to describe their faith, belief, and practices.
bulletEnglish translators of the Bible sometimes use "witch" and "witchcraft" to translate Hebrew and Greek words which condemn evil sorcerers and persons who commit murder using poison.

All three "kinds" of Witches are essentially unrelated to each other:
bulletBiblical sorcerers and poisoners, if they existed, did not pray to a Goddess and God as do modern-day Wiccans.
bulletWiccans do not poison people, recite curses, or dominate, manipulate or control others. They are limited to performing healing spells and positive magick, and then only with the prior agreement of the person that they are trying to help.
bulletHarry Potter and the other imaginary witches and wizards of creative fiction do not exist. Their universe, in which natural laws are suspended, does not exist either.
bulletFlying on broomsticks, shape-shifting and wearing invisibility cloaks are common in imaginary witchcraft, but are quite foreign to Wicca.

However, some conservative Christians treat these three very different activities -- all sometimes called "witchcraft" -- as if they are identical. Some believe that all three are parts of the Occult, and are versions of Satanism -- an evil religion which they believe is masterminded by an international, inter-generational secret cult of Satanists, who kidnap, murder and even eat children. By their reasoning, both Wicca and the Harry Potter books are clearly Satanic.

Two urban legends have been widely circulated by E-mail about Rowling's books. Both were apparently started by conservative Christians and are based on satirical articles that were intended to amuse readers, but were never expected to be taken seriously:
bulletA satirical feature titled "Post Morten" was published by the National Post, a conservative Canadian newspaper. It described an imaginary interview between a fictional Post reporter, Massimo Commanducci, and J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. In the article, Rowling was quoted as saying that she is an avowed Satanist. She decided to give herself "...body and soul, to the Dark Master. And in return, he will give me absurd wealth and power over the weak and pitiful of the world. And he did!" She said: "I worship the Devil, Beelzebub, Satan, Lucifer -- in all his unholy forms. And I owe all my success, all my glory, all my power, to my sweet, beautiful Lucifer." She said that "...the books are designed to corrupt young minds. That's what Lucifer demands of us -- all of us [Satanists]!" This fictional article has been picked up, portrayed as truth, and distributed widely. 1
bulletAn Internet humor/satire site, The Onion, specializes in writing sensational stories of fiction to amuse their readers. They publish a disclaimer on their website, stating that they use "...invented names in all its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental." One of their works of fiction involved interviews of children in Lock Haven, PA, who had been reading the Harry Potter books. One Christian, going by the name of Roger Lynn, circulated an E-mail quoting The Onion's article as if it had reported an actual event. He writes that J.K. Rowling's series of books: "...openly blasphemes Jesus and God and promotes sorcery, seeking revenge upon anyone who upsets them by giving you examples (even the sources with authors and titles!) of spells, rituals, and demonic powers. It is the doorway for children to enter the Dark Side of evil." Lynn did not reveal that it was a satirical work of fiction.

The article and E-mail quoted some children as making the following comments:
bulletCraig Nowell, a recent convert to the New Satanic Order Of The Black Circle allegedly said: "The Harry Potter books are cool, 'cause they teach you all about magic and how you can use it to control people and get revenge on your enemies. I want to learn the Cruciatus Curse, to make my muggle science teacher suffer for giving me a D." (A muggle is a non-witch).
bullet"Ashley" allegedly said: "I used to believe in what they taught us at Sunday School. But the Harry Potter books showed me that magic is real, something I can learn and use right now, and that the Bible is nothing but boring lies."

Apparently, the New Satanic Order Of The Black Circle, Craig and Ashely and their comments do not exist.

bulletHigh Priest Egan of the First Church Of Satan in Salem, MA was reported as saying:
"Harry is an absolute godsend to our cause. An organization like ours thrives on new blood - no pun intended - and we've had more applicants than we can handle lately. And, of course, practically all of them are virgins, which is gravy."

Apparently, he was in on the joke in the Onion but never did say the statement attributed to him. The First Church of Satan does exist and has been around since 1994, But they do not accept members under the age of 18.

Lynn quotes a fictional interview of Rowling by a London Times reporter in which she was supposed to have said: "I think it's absolute rubbish to protest children's books on the grounds that they are luring children to Satan. People should be praising them for that! These books guide children to an understanding that the weak, idiotic Son Of God is a living hoax who will be humiliated when the rain of fire comes,... while we, his faithful servants, laugh and cavort in victory." Lynn writes that since 1995, the number of applications to become Satanists has increased from about 100,000 to 14 million. In reality, the number of religious Satanists in the U.S. has probably dropped from about 20,000 to 10,000 over that interval. 2

The original articles in the National Post and The Onion are obviously fictional works of satire, to anyone who examines them carefully. However, it only takes one person to launch an Email presenting fiction as reality, to eventually trigger an avalanche of Emails.

The original "Onion" article 3 is no longer online. However, TruthOrFiction.com reports that it is one of the stories that has been published in a compilation of Onion articles in their book "Dispatches from the Tenth Circle." 4

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Related essays on this web site:

bulletChristian urban legend menu
bulletChristian urban legend hoaxes exposed by the ICR
bulletHarry Potter books

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References used:

  1. "Harry Potter Author Admits She's an Avowed Satanist," TruthOrFiction.com at: http://www.truthorfiction.com/
  2. "Kids in Lock Haven, PA are Giving Up Their Christian Faith and Starting Satanic Churches because of Harry Potter Books-Fiction!," TruthOrFiction.com at: http://www.truthorfiction.com/
  3. "Harry Potter Books Spark Rise In Satanism Among Children," The Onion, at:  http://theonion.com/ This article is no longer online.
  4. Robert Siegel (Editor), et al, "Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of the Onion," Three Rivers Press, (2001). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

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Copyright 2003 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Creation date: 2003-FEB-7
Latest update: 2007-JAN-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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