Harry Potter: Subtle deception or plain evil?
An article from the 'British Church Newspaper' caught my
attention recently. It is addressing the stance taken by The Evangelical
Alliance with regard to the Harry Potter phenomena. Dr Napier Malcolm (BC
Newspaper) responds in the second part of the article.
Think twice before engaging in Potter witch hunt says EA
The Evangelical Alliance is encouraging Christians to view
the Harry Potter phenomenon as a significant opportunity to engage with society
and present the enduring Christian world view as a positive alternative to the
fantasy realm of Harry's world.
But the clear expression of kingdom values, such as love,
loyalty, trust and sacrifice, - contained in Rowling's literature -– should
also be recognised said the Alliance's UK Director, John Smith.
"As Christians we should avoid the knee jerk rejection of
this piece of fantasy literature outright without thinking through the
implications", he warned. "Rejection on the basis of using magic as a
literary device must also call into question Lord of the Rings and The
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -– not to mention much that our children
watch unsupervised on TV.
"Neither is it consistent to reject Potter whilst retaining
Gandalf and the White Witch, simply because their creators were professing
Christians. In doing so we run the risk of reinforcing the stereotype of the
Church as negative and completely disengaged from modern living", he added.
"In a post-Christian society we must pick carefully the battles which we
choose to fight. It will not do to pick on Harry Potter while we remain silent
on more blatant dangers to our children, such as materialistic exploitation and
"At least JK Rowling, like Enid Blyton before her,
introduces us to a world in which children are allowed to be children. But
neither should we ignore the potential dangers of the stories as an unintended
apologetic for the occult".
John Smith's comments follow the general release of Harry
Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which has been described as a darker
cinematic offering than last year's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's
Stone. The Bible warns categorically against involvement in occult practice.
Any evidence that the Potter books and films lead to an unhealthy obsession with
the occult would need to be taken very seriously.
The Alliance supports the view that parents and teachers
should monitor children's exposure to Harry Potter. We recommend that they
read at least one of the books, and indeed any other similar literature to which
their children are inclined, and exercise careful, indeed prayerful, judgement.
The Alliance represents a diverse membership of evangelicals
and recognises that Harry Potter continues to give rise to mixed feelings within
the Christian constituency.
"Christians must take seriously the burgeoning interest in
the supernatural represented by Harry Potter's world," stressed John Smith.
"For too long we have been embarrassed to give the supernatural core of the
Gospel its central place in our proclamation and practice. Today's openness to
the supernatural provides an arena for Christian witness which we cannot ignore"
Harry Potter Response
We are surprised at the Evangelical Alliance's defence of
the Harry Potter novels. There is all the usual stuff about opportunities to
engage with society and of course 'knee jerk reactions'.
To condemn dabbling in the occult is not "a knee jerk
The EA repeats the world's argument that the books promote
"love, loyalty, trust and sacrifice". This is just saying that Satan can
appear as an angel of light. We are not ignorant of his devices. The writer says
that rejecting Harry Potter calls into question some of Tolkein and CS
Lewis. It does indeed. We think that The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
is quite unsuitable for children. The EA goes on, "It will not do to pick on
Harry Potter while we remain silent on more blatant dangers to our children,
such as materialistic exploitation and sexualisation." No, it will not! We do
not remain silent about, "blatant dangers to our children, such as
materialistic exploitation and sexualisation," any more than we do about Harry
He says, "Any evidence that the Potter books and films lead
to an unhealthy obsession with the occult would need to be taken very seriously".
What sort of evidence is he looking for -– a ten-year longitudinal study, after
which we will be able to decide whether it was right to put such stuff in our
Obviously the books are feeding our society's unhealthy
preoccupation with the occult and we ought not to shelter, as the world does,
behind lack of a controlled trial, when the Bible is perfectly clear that we are
not to have anything to do with the occult in any shape or form or under any
"When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God
giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations,"
(Deuteronomy 18:9) and the passage is speaking of the occult.
Practitioners of the occult were to be put to death, not made
our children's heroes.
This author agrees with the response from Dr Malcolm. It
should also be noted that the Christians role here on earth is presented clearly
in Scripture: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." We should expect 'darkness'
from a world system that has walked away from God (the light) -– but as
believers we have a mandate to provide "Salt -– with a savour; and light in
I believe we can challenge views and attitudes from a Godly
perspective, without portraying ourselves as self-righteous, overly judgemental
or spiritual vigilantes. The Jesus Style proves that we can challenge peoples
views very effectively, when we have shown people, by living example, our
love. Perhaps I can suggest that we prepare the ground by 'being
Christians' -– and plant the seed of God's Word from that platform...