Exorcists from Rome, US urged removal of 'Harry Potter' books from school, priest says

Harry Potter fans driving book sales, especially of grip lit
Harry Potter fans driving book sales, especially of grip lit | Reuters blogs

Father Dan Reehil, pastor of St. Edward Church and School in Nashville, Tennessee, is under fire from some parents for ordering the removal of the Harry Potter book series from the school’s library because they celebrate witchcraft.

According to the school’s website, they are a community that “strives to do what is right and do our best in the image of Christ.” The school also promotes its partnership with families and the Catholic Church to pursue academic excellence and “embrace and model the gospel of Jesus Christ through service to our community and the world.”

In an anonymous letter from a group of concerned parents at the school, who say they chose to keep their identities private for fear of retaliation, they argued that Reehil ordered the removal of the Harry Potter books without consulting with the school’s librarian or principal. He also did not inform the school community about the removal of the books until one parent asked about it.

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In an email to the school community, Reehil said he was advised by exorcists both locally and in Rome that the books are a spiritual threat to the school community.

“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text. I have consulted several exorcists, both in the United States and in Rome, and they have recommended removing the books from circulation,” Reehil wrote.

The anonymous group of parents argued in their letter that Reehil is a religious fanatic with “fringe, conservative views of the Catholic faith and doctrine.”

“We as concerned parents are not surprised given Fr. Reehil’s fringe, conservative views of the Catholic faith and doctrine, his inability to critically assess and discern fact from fiction, and his fanatical obsession with the devil and sin, highlighted by his Church Militant view of our faith that sees life as a battle against evil,” the parents wrote.

The local Superintendent of Schools, Rebecca Hammel, argued in a response to the parents’ complaint cited by News Channel 5 that the Harry Potter books "were only made available in the school library for enrichment reading."

Hammel said Reehil made his decision to remove the books during a restructuring of the school’s library and some books were purged due to age-appropriateness or poor circulation.

"While the Catholic Church has expressed no formal position on the books and related movies, many voices in the Church, even at higher levels, have expressed that the subject matter may be appropriate when due consideration is given to the maturity of the reader. We leave these decisions to you as your children’s primary educator," Hammel said in her response.

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