From the Sorcerer's Stone to the Half-Blood Prince, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling has captured the heart of both children and adults all around the world. However, with each new book, the novels have also become a hot topic of debate within the theological arena.
While some believe Harry Potter instills Christian values and teachings in children as well as adults, others, like best selling British author, journalist, and film maker Caryl Matrisciana, argue that reading or watching Harry Potter will turn children to witchcraft and black magic.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Matrisciana.
One of the biggest arguments against Harry Potter is that the books and films cause children to seek out and explore witchcraft and the occult. Is there any evidence that proves ones direct effect on the other?
There have been various newspaper headlines stating that the Harry Potter phenomenon fuels children's interest in witchcraft and hundreds want to know about local witchcraft covens and learn about spells and other activities the fictional Harry is involved in. According to an August 2000 Associated Press article Harry has "caused a boom in application to Britain's Magic Circle society, "where the membership in the society's Young Magicians Club has "increased by 25 percent since the popularity of the four JK Rowling books."
On Potter's internet website hundreds of children believe Harry's Hogwart's school of witchcraft and wizardry really exists and they want to attend it as Harry does -- so much for those who convince us that kids can distinguish between reality and fantasy and don't think witchcraft or Harry's world is real.
Apparently hundreds of children from all over the world come to King's Cross to see platform nine and three-quarters and want to catch Harry's train. According to the station master, several children trying what Harry did "got hurt" hitting into the solid barrier or wall. This example shows that children do believe in Harry's world, Harry's school and its teachings, Harry's power - and incredibly they WANT it because they believe it to be real.
Various Wiccan groups have credited Potter books boost interest in witchcraft. A representative of Children of Artemis, a Wiccan group that sponsored the largest European witchcraft and Wicca event in recorded history in Scotland said in "there is a growing interest in the Wiccan religion.... and Harry Potter has had a positive effect...." (in promoting the growth). (Worldnetdaily:Boy wizard changing teens into witches June 11 2003)
The London Times, in its article "Teenage Witches. Girls just want to learn witchcraft" wrote that the Harry Potter books along with such TV programs as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch are attracting hundreds of teenage girls every month who want "to join covens to learn about casting spells" and "rejecting Christianity and the Church for witchcraft". (foxnews.com/etcetera/080600/witchcraft.sml August 6 2000)
Children interviewed on recent TV programs and news stated how they wanted to go to Harry's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and learn (like Harry) to cast spells. They wanted to put spells on their teachers, boyfriends, girlfriends and that Potter books "inspired" them. The reason, said a foxnews.com article is that "young women (are) seeking female empowerment. The demand is being accelerated by thousands of pages on the Internet offering anything from "poison" rings to spells", apparently the need is "influenced by pressure to pass exams, to find boyfriends and to become wealthy." (ibed)
Harry Potter hype continues through massive toy merchandising, promotions through TV networks, mergers of toy companies and fast foods and promoted further by Matel, Warner Bros and Coca-cola who bought the rights to the famous Potter name for $290 million in 2001. Harry's trading card packs matched the success of Pokeman cards and Warner Brothers films on Harry continued interest in the supernatural between the releases of Rowling's seven part series. Warner Bros boasted of the film number one that [The film] is an actual portrayal of witchcraft". Why are the mass media and our culture so intent on pushing this "religion" into the mainstream while negating the values of Judeo Christianity? Even in Harry's books, those who don't believe as Harry and other witches do are derogatorily called "muggles". In England the term mug or muggle is used for a foolish person.
Most alarmingly, Witchcraft/Wicca, which was given legal religious recognition by the Supreme Court in 1986, has IRS tax exemption status and Wiccan chaplains in the military is now promoted as so-called "fantasy" literature and its contents, which accurately portray the values and elements of the religion of witchcraft are permitted to be read aloud in classrooms across America. Worse yet, at a time when Bible reading on campus, the posting of the Ten Commandments in academic corridors or praying at school functions have been expelled from the classroom, 101 Basic Witchcraft is permitted through the reading aloud of the Harry Potter books by teachers in the classroom. Would a book based on Judeo Christian values and Biblical concepts, such as Tim LaHaye's Left Behind Series which was also along with Harry top of the NY best sellers list, be permitted such expose in classrooms across the nation? And would school buses be allowed to transport thousands of school children to the movie theatres to see Mel Gibson's Bible based "The Passion of Christ" movie the way thousands of students were bused to see Harry Potter's land of wizards and muggles movie?
(www.jsonline.com/wisconsin/movies/nov01harry15111401a.asp)sand I don't think so! So why is certain religious indoctrination allowed unquestioned into the classrooms yet another banned?
Of special concern is the conflict of interest posed by Scholastic Inc, the publisher's of Harry's books in USA who, for 70 years, have also been the providers of school curriculum. On the Scholastic website, at one time, children were encouraged in in-depth philosophical discussion on Harry's themes and morals and invited to interact with Wiccan websites when such discussions would never be endorsed with Biblical Christians. Witchcraft/Wiccais being marketed more than any other time in history as can be demonstrated by using an internet search engine on such words as witchcraft (hit 341,000 times), divination (almost 200,000), black magic (58000), magic spells (45000), love spells (11900), potions, goddess worship, rune power, etc.
Those favoring the books claim the books are rich in Christ symbols such as the Phoenix, the griffin, and the unicorn that help instill Christian values and teachings in children as well as adults. Can you comment on this?
Harry is a witch along with 350 other students at Hogwart's occult school. The teachers are there to teach the children about the "dark arts," astrology, tarot card reading, magic spells, rituals amongst other Wiccan traditions. Furthermore, the children communicate with dead ghosts, Harry gets advice from his dead father, his parents strengthen him at intense times, etc. Harry is not a Christ-figure and certain occult symbols, mythological creatures and the like are not appropriate to teach Christian values. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and other verses from the Bible teach us about God's heart towards those who practice witchcraft, such as soothsayer, those who interpret omens or a sorcerer, those who conjure spells, or a medium or a spiritist or one who calls up the dead. These are an abomination to the Lord so why use what is abominable to God to further Christ's values?
How would you respond to someone who argues that the complex moral decision making that the children in Harry Potter wrestle is a reflection of the real world?
Yes, there are complex moral issues in Harry's books, but the way Harry, fellow students, and his teachers deal with them are through the occult means that they teach and are available to them. They believe, as all witches do, in using the power of witchcraft from the sources associated with it. If one says there is no real power in witchcraft, then one denies both what those involved in witchcraft say and also reject what God declares. If one recognizes that there is real power in witchcraft, then you have to agree with the witches that it is natural or from nature and therefore, neutral (at least not evil) or you agree with God that the source of this power is from an evil power, Satanic spirits or demonic beings. If you agree with the latter understanding of where witchcraft power originates, then the question is whether or not these books that present a young boy learning how to access and use power from some evil power, satanic spirits or demonic beings could possibly be acceptable especially when the books present the young boy's activity in a neutral or innocent manner.
The Harry Potter texts are often compared to the Christian classic fantasy texts of Lewis and Tolkien in a clear depiction of the struggle of good over evil. What is your response?
The Christian classic fantasies are not generally confusingly set in the real world as many of Harry's themes are in a boarding school where children are being taught the actual reality of an occult religion through JK Rowlings deep knowledge of Greek, Roman mythology, folklore, philosophies, and pagan religions. Harry is a book of religious indoctrination to a whole generation who are being desensitized to the dangers of involvement in the occult. They are being taught occult symbology and perversions wrapped up as "innocent" "just fantasy". The ideas in JK Rowlings' books are not fabrications or imaginary. Rather, they are age-old principle of Wicca and Paganism believed by thousands of witches today. Children cannot distinguish as JK Rowling herself admits "I get letters from children.... and it's not a joke, begging to be let into Hogwarts.... they want it to be true so badly they've convinced themselves it is true."
Veteran film maker Caryl Matrisciana is the producer of the video, Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged. Making Evil Look innocent (www.caryltv.com), which has earned her the NRB TV Producer of the Year Award in 2002.
Matrisciana is a well-known expert on ancient and modern world religions, contemporary cults, paganism and the occult, who has co-produced or contributed research and expertise to more than thirty documentaries in over 25 years.
Raised as a Roman Catholic, she has been involved in non-denominational churches since her late twenties when she came to have an avid interest in the Bible.