Thanks to an edict by the school’s pastor, the library at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville will no longer carry the Harry Potter book series, The Tennessean reports.
In an email, Rev. Dan Reehil said that the books were banned because they “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,” he wrote, adding that several exorcists he consulted endorsed his decision.
Associating Harry Potter with the alleged realm of demonic spirits is a known theme that’s regurgitated by religious figures, although more commonly by evangelicals. In a fiery screed from 2015, preacher and broadcaster Kevin Swanson commanded America to “repent of Harry Potter.”
“For tens of millions of parents it would be better that a millstone be hung around their neck and they be drowned at the bottom of the sea,” he declared, loosely citing a bible verse. Swanson’s tirade against the series was more of gay thing than a demon thing. In a video clip flagged by Right Wing Watch of his sermon, Swanson went on to slam the character Dumbledore who “emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter.”
A Catholic school taking such an oppositional stance to the books is not in the mainstream, however. In 2003, the series penned by J.K. Rowling got a full-throated endorsement from the Vatican, saying that its consistent with Christian morals.
“If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter’s author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil. And she is very clear on this,” said the Rev Peter Fleetwood of the Vatican’s council for culture, adding that Rowling is “Christian by conviction, is Christian in her mode of living, even in her way of writing.”
Speaking to The Tennessean, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Rebecca Hammel, said that in the end it’s the school’s pastor who has the final say.
“Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school,” Hammel said. “He’s well within his authority to act in that manner.”
As of yet, there have been no reports of demonic possession at the school.
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