Some think Potter books cross religious lines

J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has become the first writer ever to become a billionaire in US dollars. Her novels have sold more than 325 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 65 languages. The five movies based on the novels have grossed nearly $4 billion. There is even a Harry Potter amusement park to be opened at Universal Studios in 2009. It is safe to say that Harry Potter is popular. However, this huge popularity has caused concern among different religious groups. Denise Kettering, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in religious studies at the University of Iowa, said this concern is caused mainly because Potter is not an adult, and he is not necessarily a good role model for children readers. Harry is an extremely disobedient child and suffers very little punishment for his rebellious actions, which may cause disillusionment among a child when the parent or other authority figure is forced to justly administer a punishment for disobedience. Harry is involved in harsh name-calling and becomes increasingly more violent as he grows up, which may cause some children to do the same. Potter also uses magic and sorcery. According to the Christian Bible, sorcery is an abomination to God, and this is a concern among parents that believe that Harry could be leading their children to witchcraft and possibly to Satan before their Christian values have had a chance to develop. Another issue raised is that from the side of the Pagan religion known as Wicca, which Potter is mostly commonly associated with. How does this exposure affect the Wiccan religion? “I hope it will draw people’s interest to Wicca – not to accept it as their own following, but simply to learn the truth about it,” said Kaitlynn Johnson. “Probably the most cancerous rumor regarding Wicca is that we worship Satan,” said Samuel Cummings. “Let’s dispel that right now – we don’t even believe in Satan.” However, the Bible says that sorcery is a punishable sin. How then, do the Christians feel about Potter’s effect on their religion? Christianity is one of the most diverse religions, so Potter is being dealt with in many different ways. Although some try to have the books banned, and there have been formal book burnings, most Christians react in less extreme ways. Jeff Korhorn, the youth pastor at the Evangelical Free Church in Findlay, Ohio, said that Harry is, without a doubt, a bad role model for children. “[Harry] is not serving God, he is meddling in the Satanic realm.” Korhorn said, however, that simply reading the books does make them a bad person and said that he read the first book to get an idea of what it was about. He did this to better educate the Potter readers about the Christian viewpoint of wizardry. How do other Potter readers feel about the issue? Andrew Yu, an atheist, said: “I can not imagine that a child would read these books and honestly try to live out a life as a wizard or witch because of that.” Carlton Lonergan, a Wiccan, said: “It uses magic to grasp our imaginations, not force any religious views on anyone.” Brandon Talley, a Christian, said: “I read two books at night: Harry Potter and the Bible. I believe that God is the ruler of the universe and that He sent His Son to die on the Cross for us, and nothing is going to change that – especially not a silly story.” “The most serious problems arise when those who become most critical about the books have not actually read them because their concerns and objections are not taken seriously by those who read the books,” Kettering said. “Some Christians have legitimate concerns, unfortunately, their concerns are lumped in with the naysayers who have not read the books and so they are dismissed rather than taken seriously as concerns about their children’s welfare.” Kettering said that each family will deal with the issue in a different way. “It seems that each parent, child or reader must decide what they will get out of the books because there seems to be the capacity for Harry to be either a positive or a negative role model.”