Monday, April 17, 2006

Continuing controversy over the Harry Potter books

A Gwinnett County, Georgia, parent wants to remove the Harry Potter books from the county's public school libraries. Why? I'm glad you asked:
On the forms, she wrote that she objected to the series’ “evil themes, witchcraft, demonic activity, murder, evil blood sacrifice, spells and teaching children all of this.” She wrote she had not read the series because it is long, and she is a working mother of four.

I don't know which is my favorite part: the fact that she didn't read the series "because it is long," or the reference to "evil blood sacrifice." (Is there good blood sacrifice?) Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers react to the controversy, and thankfully bring some perspective to the issue:

"I am a Christian. I feel that Christian rights are being abolished in this country. Everyone talks about our views being pushed on them. But what about our beliefs? Don't we have any rights at all?"
— Posted by "red" on the message board

I have heard the Constitution has something to say about free expression and nonestablishment of religion, but I haven't read it, because it is long. (Thanks to Leila and Tim for the links.)


This was posted on BookSlut today and I had to follow the link through to the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The reader response that got me was this one:

"I totally agree with this parent seeking to have Harry Potter books removed. If we suggested the Bible be on a list of mandatory books for students to read as a part of their novel requirement, there would be an immediate protest. Therefore, as a Christian, we must begin to take a stand and begin to show accountability for what our children are being taught and exposed to."
— Posted by Mendi on the message board (ed. bolding added by me)

This raises an interesting point. I'm sure most parents would have no problem with the Bible being read as a novel as part of a literature course. What most people object to, I'm sure, is it being taught as religion in public schools.

I, personally, am all for studying the Bible as an important piece of literature since it has had such an influence on common literary themes, just like Greek and Roman myths have, and I know I studied those in school.

*ducks in preparation for the flames*

4 comments:

Sarah said...

I totally agree with you. One of the best courses I took in college was called something like "Classical and Scriptural Backgrounds," where we read Greek and Roman works as well as the Bible (and the Gnostic gospels) and discussed them as the foundations of Western literature. It was absolutely fascinating, and I found that my understanding and appreciation of literature in general was enhanced SO much by that class. But just like you said -- if the professor had turned it around and used the Bible to preach to us, that would NOT have been okay with me.

Carrie K said...

I'm Lutheran and I think the idea that Harry Potter is going to turn the children into devil worshipping zombies is moronic. For one thing, if a novel can destroy their faith, its not all that strong now, is it? For another........oh sheesh. The whole concept of not allowing new ideas, books, or thoughts to enter peoples heads as a sort of mind control just drives me crazy. If you've got to keep that kind of a death grip on them, might as well quit now.

Chris said...

*sputter*

Where's the accountability? If you don't want your kids to read something, surely you can control that??! We're talking libraries - not from course lists. It doesn't say anything about the books being included in a curriculum (heh, they're too long for that...).

Paul said...

I found a good lecture on the whole Harry Potter thing on a Christian site called BeThinking.org. It's here

http://www.bethinking.org/resource.php?ID=84

I was quite impressed and I generally like to spread the word that not all evangelicals are against Harry Potter. Mind you, I don't mind some people being against it but it's important for people to know that there are a wide range of views on such matters. And I think that Christians, even if opposed, should try to think intelligently about the whole issue.