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Book Review:

Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft (With Praise from Christian Leaders)

by Berit Kjos Author of Under the Spell of Mother Earth

I was eager to get to Hogwarts first because I like what they learned there and I want to be a witch.-Gioia, age 10 1

I like the third book because here [Harry] meets his godfather and Professor Lupin, a really cool guy [This really "cool guy" is a shape-shifter who turns into a werewolf]...
- Harry, age 7 2

The Harry Potter novels have created a new idol for millions of children around the world.  To some of them the fictional Harry seems almost real.  But concern is growing among some Christian segments that the Potter series, replete with lessons in practical witchcraft, is opening a door to an occult reality for the world's children.  Other Christian leaders deny such danger, but J.K. Rowling, the author who created Harry Potter, admits it is actually happening.

In a Newsweek interview she said, "I get letters from children addressed to Professor Dumbledore [headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the books], and it's not a joke, begging to be let into Hogwarts, and some of them are really sad.  Because they want it to be true so badly they've convinced themselves it's true."

Children everywhere love supernatural thrills, mystical stories, fairy tales and legends; e.g., Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Grimm's Fairy Tales, etc. But Harry Potter's birthplace, Great Britain, is a wonderland of options for exploring practical witchcraft, and plenty of youth are catching Harry's occult vision. Two British reports on this phenomenon reveal that popular forms of occult entertainment "have fueled a rapidly growing interest in witchcraft among children."

Great Britain's Pagan Federation is pleased.  Although it refuses to admit members under age 18, "it deals with an average of 100 inquiries a month from youngsters who want to become witches, and claims it has occasionally been 'swamped' with calls."  Pagan Federation media officer, Andy Norfolk, explains, "Every time an article on witchcraft or paganism appears, we have a huge surge in calls, mostly from young girls."3

John Buckeridge, editor of the British Christian magazine Youthwork, is worried. Unlike many U.S. church leaders, who give Potter novels the thumbs up, he foresees serious danger ahead.  "The growing number of books and TV shows like Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch encourage an interest in magic as harmless fun... However, for some young people it could fuel a fascination that leads to dangerous dabbling with occult powers.  So what starts out as spooks and spells can lead to psychological and spiritual damage."4

A More "Noble" Religion?

It's not surprising that the timeless craving for power and control through magic has soared with the decline of Christian influence and the spread of pagan television shows and books.

The trend has been increasing ever since the 1960s initiated a rejection of traditional values and an interest in eastern religions.  This was followed a decade or so later with the flowering of the New Age movement.  These transitions actually indicated society's discontent with a spiritually vacant Secular Humanism and its need for a more "religious" paradigm, but definitely without the "old" Christian worldview and restraints.

Almost a decade ago, a Wiccan student wrote an article about witchcraft for The Talon, her high school newspaper.  Leah Mowery based her report on interviews with several student witches at Los Altos High School in California.5   Her article boasted that Wicca was more tolerant than traditional beliefs and taught people to take better care of the environment and helped people to empower themselves.  It used only "good" magic.

Soon afterwards, a Christian student, also an editor for The Talon, asked if he could write about Young Life, a Christian group active on their campus.  "No," was the response, "because witchcraft is underexposed in our society and Christianity is overexposed."  Translation: Witches could give public testimonies about the benefits of their religion, but Christians were no longer allowed to express their faith and testimonies. 6

With assistance from television, books, and movies, Christianity's reputation has been badly tarnished.  The faith has been blamed for hatred, conflict, wars and environmental abuse, and the criticism has inspired countless "Christian" leaders to "re-imagine" their faith in order to embrace a more tolerant view toward the world's fast-growing fascination with pagan practices.

According to proponents of the new pagan revival, Christianity simply doesn't fit any more.  The Christian Church has failed to provide "the right degree of spirituality for young people." In contrast, paganism involves "direct communication with the divine."7

From the Biblical perspective, this viewpoint is tragically wrong, but it matters little to the masses seeking spiritual power without Biblical accountability.

Strange Counsel from Christian Leaders

Typical of our times, a recent report in Christianity Today seems to base its approval of Harry Potter not on the Bible, but on popular consensus among Christian leaders.  "As far as I can tell," writes author Ted Olsen, "while no major Christian leader has come out to condemn J.K. Rowling's series, many have given it the 'thumbs up.'  If our readers know of any major Christian leader who has actually told Christians not to read the books, I'd be happy to know about it;  but in my research, even those Christians known for criticizing popular culture have been pretty positive about Potter."8

To prove his point, Mr. Olsen quotes seven Christian leaders or publications:

This article was originally published in the
October 2000 Personal Update NewsJournal.

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  1. "What Readers Think About Goblet?" San Francisco Chronicle, 7/26/00.
  2. "Harry's Biggest Fans," San Francisco Chronicle, 7/26/00.
  3. "Potter fans turning to witchcraft," This Is London, 8/4/99, http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/top_story.html?in_review_id=306029&in_review_text_id=250010.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Mowery, Leah, "Mystical Misconceptions Haunt Students," The Talon, 6/7/91.
  6. Based on the above-mentioned Wiccan article and on personal interviews with the Christian student.
  7. Op. Cit., Norfolk.
  8. Olsen, Ted, "Opinion Roundup: Positive About Potter," Christianity Today, http://www.christianityonline.com/9c13b.html.
  9. Breakpoint can be heard at www2.oneplace.com
  10. Maynard, Roy, "Books: Kiddy Lit-Potter series is a delight, but beware of children's books by celebrities," World magazine archives from May 29, 1999, Vol. 14, Number 21.
  11. http://www.christiancentury.org/.
  12. Mars Hill Audio Journal, Sept./Oct. 2000.
  13. See the books, A Twist of Faith, and Under the Spell of Mother Earth, by the author.
  14. Op. Cit. "Potter fans turning..."


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