Religion in the Media Harry Potter and a Catholic School Controversy

Religion in the Media Harry Potter and a Catholic School Controversy

by Emmanuel Paige



The St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, Tennessee, is boycotting the Harry Potter series by author J.K. Rowling because they claim there is really magic in the spells. The Catholic Church has always taken magic, spells, demonic possession, and exorcism seriously. A shining example is portrayed in the book The Exorcist by author William Peter Blatty, as it was based on real traditions and rituals performed by priests from the Catholic church to cast out demons from a possessed person. It comes as no surprise that members of this sect and faith would take exception to the magic spells and incantations written in the pages of the Harry Potter books. If the premise by which the Catholic church argues is true, that spoken spells and incantations can summon spirits from the realms of Heaven and Hell, then it makes sense that they would argue that any spell, no matter how harmless or minor, should be taken seriously and not performed by mortals, practically or in jest, lest they conjure up an uncontrollable spirit and end up in a situation that requires a Catholic priest to perform an exorcism.

Author J.K. Rowling is not a Satan worshiper, at least not in public, and her books are not meant to be evil, malignant, or diabolical and the fictional magic with incantations and spells and charms are meant for entertainment purposes only, and nothing more. These Harry Potter books are written for a young adult audience and are filled with fancy and speculation and are nothing more than good old-fashioned fun and entertainment. They are less harmful than the magic tricks performed by David Copperfield or Criss Angel, and are meant to be taken lightly, humorously, without much factuality or seriousness given to the prestidigitation, wand waving, chants. and spells. Are we to believe that these fictional stories are real, and that magic can be used to cast spells on unsuspecting targets? J.K. Rowling may imply that this is serious magic within the school of Hogwarts and are no laughing matter, but honestly, outside of the book covers, the magic falls flat at can conjure nothing more than snickers and embarrassment from curious onlookers. Empirical evidence will win out every time to support the fact that magic is just wishful thinking and speculative fancy.


I think the impact of this controversy is minimal, although it does have staunch supporters on both sides. The supporters are only a small regional section of the Catholic Church in Nashville, Tennessee, although the entire religious communities of both Christians and Muslims have not favored the Harry Potter series of books overall since its inception. The books content deals with magic and spells, wizards, sorcerers, and witches, and this is something that is forbidden by the Holy Bible and Koran. These religions are, in essence, interpreting the fictional novels in the Harry Potter series as having literal magic and spells contained within the pages. They also equate the stories to evil and Satanic rituals. I have known people from different denominations of Christianity that refuse to let their children have anything to do with Harry Potter. This seems to be blown way out of proportion, although I understand why Christians feel the way they do about these books.

On the other hand, the interpretation of J.K. Rowling’s books by most of her fans, including myself, is that these books are lighthearted and meant to be enjoyed merely for entertainment purposes. The stories are whimsical, intriguing, and addicting. There is a sort of infectiousness to these stories that is contagious and has caused an outburst of fanaticism where admirers take part in the fun with wands, robes, and other props from the books and movies. They perform complete reenactments of key scenes and acts. My girlfriend is an avid fan and we must have watched the movies over a hundred times by now. Voldemort is one of the greatest villains of all time, I might argue.

I see the Harry Potter series as good leisure time fun, meant to be taken lightly and enjoyed for the theatrical value—nothing more and nothing less. There are even some wholesome morality and ethics portrayed within the story by the characters, and these are lessons that teach young adults good values and manners that will make them better human beings in the long run. There is no credence to the controversial hokum of the religious community that created a fervor, shortly after the publication of these potentially classic books, purporting that a spirit of evil is embodied within the stories. The spells, although Latinate and poetic, are no more harmful than Mother Goose nursery rhymes. J.K. Rowling undoubtedly authored these books primarily for entertainment, partially for profit, and most importantly, not to be taken too seriously.

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