Is Harry Potter Satanic?

For the last few years — ever since the Harry Potter books became immensely popular — there has been an e-mail circulating online claiming that the adolescent wizard is in liege with Satan, aka the Prince of Darkness.

In the books, there is a division between those who wield magic and those who don’t. The former are called wizards and witches, the latter are known simply as “Muggles”, or “non-magic folk”. The wizards spend a considerable amount of time avoiding letting the Muggles know that they exist, because the poor arcanely challenged masses just can’t understand magic. As a result, when they encounter it their as likely to faint dead away as they are to simple burn the offending spellcaster at the stake.

Harry Potter — the hero of the books — is the son of a wizard and witch who died opposing an evil wizard named Voldemort, in fact they died saving their son from this twisted monster.

Harry survives the encounter, and is given to his Muggle aunt and uncle to be raised until — at age 11 — he’s informed of his sorcerous past as his invited to attend the Hogwort’s School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.

And there lies the rub. Harry is a wizard, the male equivalent of a witch, and according to the Bible-thumping crowd, witches are bad. Why are they bad? Because the Bible tells us so (remember all that “never suffer a witch to live” talk.) Witches are in liege with Satan, Harry Potter is about wizards and witches, and there for, Harry Potter is Satanic. (One wonders if Wendy the Witch got this same treatment. I’m guessing yes.)

Fortunately for your friendly neighborhood fundamentalist, the above equation — Harry Potter = Witchcraft = Satanism — doesn’t actually require them to read the books, because after all, that would endanger their immortal souls.

As a result, they don’t know that the Harry Potter books about heroism, honor, friendship, courage, bravery, adventure and about a gazillion other traits that are generally considered to be a good thing. In the very first book, we’re told that while most wizards and witches are good, a few go bad. And we’re shown how bad in the form of Voldemort, a man so vile and evil that he must drink unicorn blood to stay alive.

Now that’s evil.

The book (and its sequels) go out of its way to point out the nature of Voldemort and his followers evil acts, including using powerful curses to compel their victims to perform terrible crimes, or to kill them outright. There are all sorts of plot twists that lead the reader to believe that someone is evil or good when in fact they are not, but when all is said and done, there’s no doubt as to who the truly evil ones are. And time and time again, those individuals are not Harry or his friends.

Indeed, Harry and his friends hold true to all the values I want to promote in my own kids some day: courage and honesty, creativity and logic, passion and friendship. As a result, I fully intend to read Harry Potter to my kids, right after Watership Down and The Hobbit.

So is Harry Potter satanic?

If you’re a fundamentalist Christian, who believes in Satan, thinks that witches, wizards and warlocks are agents of the Dark Lord, and can’t be bothered to read a book rather than burn it, then yes, Harry Potter is Satanic. Nothing I can say or write will make you think otherwise — it was true with Dungeons & Dragons, and it’s true with Harry. So stop trying to thump me with the Good Book and go listen to Pat Roberston.

For everyone else, who actually interested in facts, no Harry Potter is not Satanic. While spells and potions do appear in the book — as well as broomsticks and wands — these are all presented as tools that can be used for weal or woe. Evil is never presented in an attractive or seductive light, and Harry is constantly fighting against it, always striving to live up to the standard set by his parents. While he may occasionally bend or outright break the rules, there’s never any doubt that he’s a good kid.

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