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The Controversial Harry Potter Series

Updated on July 16, 2011

Controversy

For years the Harry Potter controversy has raged in one form or another. Some say J. K. Rowling's books are wonderful fantasy novels. And then there are those claiming Harry Potter books are evil and designed to promote occultism since Harry Potter, is a wizard.

Ms. Laura Mallory, a concerned parent, who has tried unsuccessfully to have these books removed from school libraries in Gwinnett county, GAsays the Harry Potter books idealize witchcraft. She even cited statistics indicating large numbers of students, after reading the books, have inquired about becoming a witch. However,Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor’s ruling upheld a decision by the Georgia Board of Education, which had supported local school officials.

The popular book series has inflamed controversy for many families. The novels, according to some critics, are harmless children's tales. Others portray them as catalysts urging children to become involved in the occult and witchcraft. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. You’re either for or against.

A Young Wizard

The novels recount the life of a young wizard whose parents were killed by an evil Lord. On his eleventh birthday he receives an invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each book in the series represents a year of his life there.

Christians feel they have an obligation to nurture their children without subjecting them to things they feel are against the Word of God. Many parents, theologians and church heads insist subjecting young children to witchcraft and the occult is failing their duty as parents and concerned community leaders.

In the past some schools have banned such books as “Huckleberry Finn,” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Many children were raised reading and studying such literature and claimed they were not adversely affected in any way. In fact, they say they learned how life actually was in the difficult times the narratives were set in. It seems there have always been idealists who feel better qualified than others to decide what to read or ban. For example, Hitler tried to destroy the bible.

Rising Popularity

With the rising popularity of Harry Potter a cultural phenomenon seems to have occurred. For example, Barns & Noble, one of Americas’ largest book retailers, recently announced “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” will be their “largest seller in the history of the entire company.”

It’s also been pointed out Harry Potter novels lure children away from the internet, video games and television and reading instead.

An elementary school principal commented on how the books have positively affected reading problems at his school. He noted “once students become successful at reading it encourages them to read more.” Some parents are pleased Harry Potter has interested their children in reading, but also find the novels promote good morals.

However, some characters in the novels are evil. Rowling said in an interview for Time Magazine, “If you're choosing to write about evil, you really do have a moral obligation to show what it means.” If evil was not present in children's literature, then children would have no basis for conception of the sacred.”

Many support Rowling's efforts to improve children's literacy but opponents are swift to protest her books use of witchcraft and wizardry.

John Monk, a writer for “The State,” a Columbia, S.C. Newspaper, wrote the claim Harry Potter novels lured children to dabble in the occult is “poppycock.” He asserted “You might as well say ‘Gone with the Wind' teaches young readers to be slave owners, or ‘Treasure Island' entices children to be pirates.”

Rowling’s books have been controversial since their beginning in 1999. Parents and religious groups have expressed apprehension these stories can‘t be viewed as simple fantasy. They contest the novels' portrayal of the occult as a positive lifestyle. She argues “people have the right to decide what they want their children to read, but in my opinion they do not have the right to tell other people's children what they should read.”

While some parents do not allow their children to read Potter Books because of their graphic content, others accuse the books of being “anti-Christian.” It’s not hard to understand why some Christians are wary of the Harry Potter novels, but is it right for them to apply the “anti-Christian” label? Even if the characters aren't Biblically relevant many don’t desire for their children to read about evil characters who drink blood to gain power.

Andrew Blake, author of “The Irresistible Rise of Harry Potter” wrote, “Harry Potter isn't anti-Christian. The faith just isn't there.” In other words, children can enjoy Harry Potter books along with the abundance of other children's novels not having reference to Christian religion.

Obviously the subject is a controversial topic people will continue to disagree upon. Although many consider the stories fantasy, others will persist in believing they are a gateway to the occult.

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    • JY3502 profile image
      Author

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You make some very good points sgupta.

    • profile image

      sgupta. 6 years ago

      Literature has always portrayed the real as well as the unreal world. If we can allow all types of films to be portrayed then what harm in the books? In fact even children need to understand the difference between good and evil and that its not the power that is evil but the way we use it, matters. Every generation has had their own way of representing their ideas , so its best not to force your own beliefs on the next generation Let them chose for themselves. Most of the time parents and society want to have the younger ones chained to their own beliefs. Its time that we stop forcing our own ideas down their throats and read for the sake of enjoyment and not try to find issues in children's stories.

    • JY3502 profile image
      Author

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You make valid points Bette. Good comments. But, if you read the story, you should also notice these are not my opinions. I just reported on what others are saying.

    • BetteMachete profile image

      BetteMachete 6 years ago

      And look at how Christians support Lord Of The Rings. They are doing magic and there is evil in that book, but its "ok" because the author believes in God?

      Hypocrisy! I do NOT get it!

    • BetteMachete profile image

      BetteMachete 6 years ago

      So Hitler tried to destroy the bible...so we should follow in his censoring footsteps, and try to remove Harry Potter? If Hitler did something, it should be a clue we shouldn't be doing something in the vein.

      Just like the example of how schools have removed The Diary Of Anne Frank should let people know how completely WRONG that is. The Diary Of Anne Frank is a great piece of literature that showcases a true life, affected by terrible struggle. If we remove that from schools, we are denying our children important knowledge about the past. The sort of knowledge that is CRITICAL for new, young generations to know. If they cannot identify tyranny and understand human suffering and how political, mass genocides start, then we will one day be in this situation again.

      I think its nuts that Christians say Harry Potter is a gateway into the occult. With all of the issues they could be focused on, they are focused on Harry Potter. Why not get out into the world like Jesus said and witness? Feed the hungry, go on mission trips, build schools?

      Christians have no right to try and remove books from schools, that is ridiculous. A school is not a church. Whats next, do they get to censor the library too, from what doesn't fit to their liking?

      Christians are sometimes like the biggest tyrants ever. Christian Fahrenheit 451, A Brave New Christian World. Christian tyranny is even scarier than Hitler.

    • profile image

      Canidoit.org 6 years ago

      Of course - The idea that the Harry Potter stories are indoctrinating their readers with the occult is highly controversial, and even some Christians, including Christian leaders can’t see any harm in them. I.e. some argue that the stories present strong moral Christian values, they may well do – I don’t know, but what I do know is that kids are far more likely to be entranced by the magic and sorcery of the books than pick up on any deep Christian message.

      http://canidoit.org/should-christians-allow-themse...

    • profile image

      Ann Waters 6 years ago

      I don't think that JK Rowling intentially set about writing a novel based on witchcraft and to indoctrinate readers with it, but the novels are based on witchcraft. It may be in a subtle way but it could lure vulnerable minds into the world of the occult.

    • JY3502 profile image
      Author

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thanks Crewman and Mart. Always good to get positive feedback.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      I regard Harry Potter as a modern fairy tale, offering perfect escape from reality to young and old. The line thinkers will always oppose the lateral thinkers. It keeps them busy, and they stimulate all the way all other brains to think. (Any form of thinking increases the development of the brain.)

    • Crewman6 profile image

      Crewman6 6 years ago

      Excellent critique; I enjoyed reading it very much. I'm firmly in the "you read what you want to, and I'll read what I want to" camp. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Chasuk 6 years ago

      Anyway, thanks for handling a contentious subject with more equanimity than I would have managed.

    • profile image

      Chasuk 6 years ago

      @JY3502: As some famous wit said, everybody has a right to their own opinions, but not their to their own facts. I'm of the belief that there is no occult. With no occult, there is no gateway into it. I consider the nonexistence of the occult a matter of fact, and not a matter of opinion.

      If I sound harsh, understand I was raised by a fundamentalist Christian mother, so I'm intolerant of certain types of idiocy.

    • JY3502 profile image
      Author

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Dear readers, I thought I effectively covered both sides of this issue. As a news journalist I only reported the facts I found during research. My personal opinions on the subject are totally lacking in this article. Don't attack the messenger. Funny comment there Chasuk...however everybody has a right to their opinions.

    • profile image

      Chasuk 6 years ago

      The terminally stupid detect controversy wherever they focus their simple minds.

      Good hub.

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      Sorry but I've just remembered something else that managed to get itself on the banned list from schools in the US of A

      Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution... Now 150 years later there are thousands of Americans living in ignorant denial of where we came from. Not saying that Harry Potter is fact but when you start banning books and controling what people can and cannot read.....

    • Edlira profile image

      Edlira 6 years ago

      Very interesting hub. I have to agree with Merlin above on what he says.

      In my opinion this so-called controversy is plain ridiculous. I am not a Harry Potter fanatic, nonetheless I can appreciate the books for what they are, creative, interesting, and beautifully written.

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      How about banning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or anything else that upsets your moral sensiblities. Why not go the whole hog and Lets reintroduce censorship and ban anything that we don't want our children to see.

      Wrap them in cotton wool and cover their eyes and ears from harm until the day you let then see the real world.... Then what ?

      I think perhaps you should give children a little more credit they're a lot tougher and smarter than you think and I doubt that they would thank you for trying to blinker them.