The Harry Potter books have been banned by a Catholic school for containing “real” spells. Since arriving in 1997, author J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular books about teen wizard Harry Potter and his closest friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley have become the best-selling book series in history.
As any Harry Potter fan knows, the books are packed with a multitude of characters and insights into the wizarding world, which operates in a kind of parallel existence to the actual non-magical, or Muggle world.
A complete film adaptation of the books began in 2001 and ended in 2011, stretching Rowling’s written content into eight feature films and making international stars out of Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.
Despite the immense popularity of the books and the franchise in general, there’s been significant controversies over the years, specifically as a result of religious groups who take issue with what they feel to be the books’ glorification of the occult.
In the United States in particular, there have been numerous examples of Rowling’s books being banned from school libraries in a bid to protect students.
It’s been some time since the banning of Harry Potter books has been a news story, but now, according to The Independent, a Catholic school in Tennessee has just banned the entire Harry Potter series from its library. Students at St. Edward Catholic School will no longer have access to the books in the school’s revamped library, after its pastor, the Reverend Dan Reehill, declared the series to contain “actual curses and spells” that’ll conjure up evil spirits into the school’s hallowed halls. Said Reehill:
“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.”
Reehill’s decision to ban the books was apparently solidified after he contacted exorcists in both the US and at the Vatican. Once the books had been officially banned, the school was sure to let parents know that they were not banning students from reading the books on their own time, at home.
However, school officials did urge parents to be extra vigilant should they allow their children to read the series and requested that parents “guide their sons and daughters to understand the content through the lens of our faith.” As previously mentioned, this is far from the first time where such an incident has occurred, and as of this writing, Rowling has yet to comment on the ban.
Although the banning of Harry Potter books isn’t a particularly new phenomenon, the fact that it’s still being done seems to amplify the absurdity of the entire concept.
It’s also interesting to consider that if Reehill knows for certain that the books contain “actual curses and spells”, then he must have read them all, in which case he’s also responsible for unleashing so-called “evil-spirits”.
Banning books is never a good idea, particularly in the US, where freedom of speech is supposed to be central to a citizen’s overall freedoms. It’s unfortunate that the children at St. Edward’s won’t be able to take the Harry Potter books out of their school library, but perhaps their parents will still allow them to read them at home. If all else fails, there’s always the films.