Friday, August 27, 2010

Rowling vs. Lewis

What makes one book guilty of promoting witchcraft while another is simply a good piece of Christian literature?  I speak to the difference between The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter.  Perhaps it is common knowledge and perhaps it is not, but apparently Harry Potter is guilty of so much more than The Chronicles of Narnia.  Both have witches and wizards and magic and speaking animals.  But because Narnia is a Christian allegory in so many instances, it is somehow forgiven?  You don't see churches and schools advocating for the removal of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to the same extent as Rowling's books.  A few years back, the first five books of the Harry Potter series were challenged in the Gwinnet County School District for the promotion of witchcraft.  I gratefully acknowledge the wisdom of the  school board in doing nothing to the books, but the very fact that they were challenged while other books with magic and "witchcraft" were not is quite confusing to me.

 Do you have any experiences with book challenges based on witchcraft?  If so, what are your thoughts?

Rowling, J. K.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Publisher: Scholastic

The Gwinnett County, Ga. school board (2006) rejected a parent's pleas to take Harry Potter books out of school libraries, based on the claim they promote witchcraft. The Georgia Board of Education ruled December 14 that the parent had failed to prove her contention that the series "promote[s] the Wicca religion," and therefore that the book's availability in public schools does not constitute advocacy of a religion. On May 29, 2007, Superior Court judge Ronnie Batchelor upheld the Georgia Board of Education's decision to support local school officials. County school board members have said the books are good tools to encourage children to read and to spark creativity and imagination. Removed from the St. Joseph School in Wakefield, Mass. (2007) because the themes of witchcraft and sorcery were inappropriate for a Catholic school.

Source: Books Banned and Challenged 2008 by Robert P. Doyle


  1. Maybe one issue is the fact that Harry Potter focuses a lot on the learning of whitchcraft and wizardry and the practice of it while the Narnia books simply have magic as part of the story... I know a number of people with very strong opinions about Harry Potter. Makes for an interesting conversation!

  2. How do any Christians see logic in an argument that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft? Do they actually believe that this type of magic is real? If they think that it's devil worship, do they believe that the devil grants people the ability to fly on broomsticks in order to play sports games? And if they believe that the book promotes wicca rather than devil worship then they obviously know nothing about wicca. There are no broomsticks. People are strange.

  3. The librarian at my cousin's old church threw out a donated copy of Narnia simply because it had 'Magician' and 'Witch' in the title, without even bothering to find out what it was about. (He rescued it).

    When my mom ran the church library in Vernon a woman donated a movie about how Harry Potter is all about voodoo and devil worship, and was extremely offended when my mom asked her if she'd actually read the books (which of course she hadn't). Mom put added the video in anyway.

  4. While I agree that the Narnia books do "simply" have magic in them, there is still an element of incantation and spells and such, as when the White Witch goes through the process of sacrificing Aslan on the stone table. There are still magical rules being followed,etc. So I don't know that they can be necessarily placed at complete opposite ends of a spectrum on that account.