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CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN RESPONSES
TO THE HARRY POTTER™ BOOKS:

INTRODUCTION &
BOOK BURNINGS

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Read thousands of book reviews and/or order the latest book from Amazon.com

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Quotations on book burnings:

bulletHeinrich Heine, from his 1821 play Almansor: "Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."
bulletDeacon Mushrat, a religious cartoon character from an old Pogo comic strip: "There's nothing quite so fulfilling as a brightly burning book."

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Some early negative responses by conservative Christian organizations:

Very few, if any, Evangelical Christian bookstores stock these books. But a number of conservative Christian organizations have commented on them. There seems to be a common thread running through the statements of many Christians groups and organizations about the Harry Potter™ books. They say that many different groups have practiced "Witchcraft":

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The modern religion of Wicca.

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A group of religious traditions called "Paganism" or "Neopaganism."

bullet

Characters in the Harry Potter books

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Satan worshipers during the late Middle Ages and until 1792.

Therefore, many conservative Christians equate Wicca with Paganism, with the Harry Potter imaginary world and with the world of the 15th to 18th century Witch Burning Times.

But Wicca and other traditions of Paganism are actual, benign religions. The Harry Potter books refer to an imaginary, fantasy world of unicorns, flying broomsticks, invisibility cloaks, etc. The so-called Satan worshipers centuries ago were heretics that the Christian church said had they engaged in human sacrifice, selling their souls to Satan, and casting evil spells, etc. They never existed. But the church and civil courts at the time rounded up and charged tens of thousands of people with "Witchcraft." Many were burned alive or hanged.

The root core of the problem is that there are at least 17 different, almost entirely unrelated activities, that have been called "Witchcraft." If each of these activities were differentiated from each other by having a separate name, the problem over Harry Potter books would probably largely disappear.

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Book burnings:

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Pennsylvania: Members of the Harvest Assembly of God Church in Butler County, PA. had a book burning at their church on 2001-MAR-25: Thirty-five people brought books, CDs and tapes that they felt were not in keeping with their faith. Included were videos such as Pinnochio and Hercules, CDs by  Pearl Jam and Black Sabbath CDs, pamphlets from Jehovah's Witnesses, and lots of Harry Potter books. Rev. George Bender said: "There's no such thing as a crusade to deal with other people's things. That's their business. We believe in the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, and the First Commandment and Second Commandment."  He objected to the Harry Potter books: "We believe that Harry Potter promotes sorcery, witchcraft-type things, the paranormal, things that are against God...That is really bad." Judy Corman, a spokesperson for Scholastic, the books' publisher, said they are more about a child who feels powerless in the world understanding that he can take some control of his life. She said the message sent by burning books is more dangerous than any fable about sorcery could be. Corman said: "I think burning books is shameful. The message is very clear by inference. I think he's saying something very strong." 1

bullet

Maine: A group of Christians in Lewiston, ME, the Jesus Party had planned to hold a book burning in a local park on 2001-NOV-15. However, they were denied a fire permit by the Fire Department. So they held a "book cutting" instead. Church leader Doug Taylor said: "Everybody’s going to have scissors and we’re going to cut those four books up right into the trash. We’re Bible believers. We’re Christians. We think these books are dangerous." Counter-protestors were present2

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New Mexico: Pastor and members of the Christ Community Church in Alamagordo NM plan a "holy bonfire" on 2001-DEC-30 to burn Harry Potter books. Pastor Jack Brock, 74, has not actually read the books or viewed the movie. However, he believes that the books teach Wicca, a rapidly growing Neopagan religion. He is certain that: "These books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks, and sorcerers, and those things are an abomination to God and to me...Harry Potter books are going to destroy the lives of many young people." 3 He is expressed a concern that children will read some Internet web sites about the Potter books which are linked to Wiccan web sites. At the latter sites, they could about Wiccan practices, which he termed an abomination. He appears to confuse:
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Old Testament witchcraft (the sayings of spoken curses to harm people)

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Modern-day Witchcraft (called Wicca, a religion that prevents its followers from harming others), and

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Fantasy witchcraft (as in the Harry Potter books, which deal with an imaginary place with invisibility cloaks, unicorns, flying broomsticks, etc.)  4

The bonfire consumed more than Harry Potter books. Also destroyed were Ouija boards, Maxim magazines, Pokémon cards, and personal problems written on pieces of paper. It is hard to imagine this happening, but somebody burned a statue of the Buddha -- the founder of Buddhism. This brings back memories of the desecration and destruction of the giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan, motivated by the intense religious hatred and intolerance of the Taliban.

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Related essay on this web site:

bulletChristian urban folk-tales inspired by the Harry Potter books

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References:

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

  1. "Purging Flame," ABC News, 2001-MAR-26, at: http://abcnews.go.com/
  2. "Lewiston Christian group to protest Potter," Lewiston Sun Journal, at: http://www.sunjournal.com/
  3. "New Mexico church plans Harry Potter book burning," Yahoo News, 2001-DEC-27, at:  http://sg.news.yahoo.com/
  4. James Matise, "Pastor decries Harry Potter message. CCC minister to kindle holy fire in which to burn books of witchcraft," Alamogordo News, 2001-DEC-24, at: http://www.alamogordonews.com/

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

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Copyright © 2000 to 2002 incl,, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JUL-3
Latest update: 2005-NOV-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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