In response to media speculation, Focus on the Family (FOTF) posted a statement on its website this weekend titled "Dr. Dobson: 'What I Think About Harry Potter.'"
In the statement, the conservative pro-family ministry explained that FOTF founder Dr. James Dobson has never endorsed books or films from the megahit fantasy series, and that many papers mistakenly reported that he had given them an OK for Christian families.
The posting directly confronts the Washington Post, which published an article about what Christians think of the craze, and how the reporter had incorrectly assumed that Dobson favored the boy wizard.
"In a story about Christians' views on the Harry Potter books and films, reporter Jacqueline Salmon wrote that 'Christian parenting guru James Dobson has praised the Potter books,'" the statement read. "This is the exact opposite of Dr. Dobson's opinion – in fact, he said a few years ago on his daily radio broadcast that 'We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products.'"
The reason the ministry leader is against the material is obvious given the presence of magical characters (witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists and so on) in the Harry Potter stories.
"[A]nd given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture," FOTF added, "it's difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds."
Dobson's sentiments echo those of other conservative leaders including Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of MovieGuide.org, and Linda Harvey, president of Mission America.
"[T]he world of Harry Potter is still an elite occult world where secret knowledge is the way to power and success," noted Baehr in a review of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth installment of the "Potter" film series.
"'Order of the Phoenix' tries to mitigate that by saying that anyone can become a great wizard, but once again, that involves learning the secret occult knowledge of how to do witchcraft and how to wave a magic wand properly," he added.
While notably, the series is fictional and presented for the purpose of entertainment, Harvey posed in a recent column: "Is a little entertainment worth imbedding some very unfaithful ideas in the heads of children?"
"Sorcery is named specifically in Scripture as a violation of God's law (Deuteronomy 18: 10-12; Galatians 5:20 and elsewhere), and it's not a joke," she wrote. "Besides, Harry does not think like a Christian in many other ways. He nurses and feeds grudges against his relatives and his rivals at school, and revenge is portrayed as justifiable."
In addition to Dobson, another conservative Christian leader whose stance on "Harry Potter" had become muddled through media is Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Although several publications have reported that Colson endorses "Potter," the ministry founder recently stated that he doesn't personally recommend it.
"I'd rather Christian kids not read them," he expressed in a commentary last week.
"But," he added, "with some 325 million of them in print, your kids will probably see them and hear others talk about them, and they're probably going to read them anyway."
Knowing this, Colson urged parents to use the occasion to teach them to be discerning – like the prophet Daniel in the Bible who studied at a school that trained Babylon's magicians, astrologers and sorcerers but did not defile himself because of his deep devotion to God.
"Dare them to have Daniel as their role model, not Harry Potter," Colson stated.
Instead of "Harry Potter," Colson recommends parents to introduce other fantasy books such as "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Lord of the Rings," because they have more of a Christian framework.
Since their release, both the newly released movie and book have been drawing in record numbers. "Deathly Hallows," the newest and final volume of the "Harry Potter" series, released on Saturday and had a print run of 12 million in the United States alone. The "Order of the Phoenix" film, meanwhile, took in $44.8 million in its first day, the best single-day gross ever for a movie on a Wednesday.
Christian Post reporter Eric Young in Washington contributed to this article.