Harry Potter and the Radical Christians

by Matt Tarrant

“Burn the books. They’re preaching Satan’s message to our children.”“Witchcraft is the work of the devil. Protect yourselves from this new evil.”“J.K. Rowling is clearly a witch because her stories contain black magic which is all real.”

OK. Like you, I have seen what the Christian radicals have had to say about this and other fantasy novels (note the word “fantasy” guys!). Mostly, this type of preaching comes from individuals who have only ever experienced Harry Potter through a third person perspective. We all read the much publicized book burnings in Mexico which included Harry Potter. To my mind, this was some guy calling on the media to sell his brand of radicalism free of marketing costs.

Yes, a child may innocently say to his or her parents: “I want to be a wizard,” or “I want to play Quidditch.” In my day I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but by the miracle of puberty and early adulthood (not to mention a better understanding of genetics), I had grown out of that phase. My point being that young people today may well like to imagine themselves living in Harry’s world, casting their spells and pretending to fight evil. It’s a phase, which they will go through, but I hardly think they will grow into adulthood with pointy hats, a wand and a tendency to curse the boss with boils or turn people into ferrets.

However, there is evidence emerging that beneath the layers of magic and witchcraft lies a Christian backdrop to HP. One example of this is Sirius Black. He is Harry’s godfather, which means that Harry had some kind of baptism. Another example is the character of the Fat Friar.*

So there are themes running through Harry Potter which would indicate that J.K. has placed a religious undertone to her books, but as she is, it remains very subtle. But that’s J.K.’s gift. She doesn’t need to justify her stories to anyone. Those that are sensible and observant will pick up on the evidence and decide for themselves.

For those who are interested in reading more about Christianity in Harry Potter, please visit God in Harry Potter, a website run by three members of MuggleNet Forums: no1seeker, IndyPotter, and HogwartsChaplain.

*Credit to Evelyn Weston (HogwartsChaplain) and her article, which can be found at God and Harry Potter.