THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)–“For the first time in his life, my kid is reading. And I owe it all to Harry Potter!”
This is the defense of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series from many an enthused parent, while those who see the books as occultic literature have challenged their appropriateness for school classrooms.
This phenomenally successful book series now has taken movie form. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” a Warner Brothers release about the orphaned boy who attends a boarding school for wannabe witches and wizards, will attempt to cast its spell in movie theaters beginning Friday, Nov. 16.
So, will all those kids who adore Harry and his hex-casting pals want to see the film version? According to many surveys, most certainly.
But is Harry Potter simply fantasy that inspires youngsters, or is it indeed an introduction to witchcraft and the world of the occult? According to a new video from Jeremiah Films, such literature and films that deal with witchcraft are furnishing not just escapist entertainment for young viewers but causing an overwhelming interest in the dark arts.
Jeremiah Films is celebrating more than 20 years in the field of video communications. Using sound, biblically based research, this Christian film company has tackled many tough and sometimes controversial subjects, including American revisionalism, homosexuality and the evolution debate. Their latest project addresses the phenomenon of “Pottermania.” What they have come up with is an absorbing and disturbing video, “Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged – Making Evil Look Innocent.”
In this socially relevant documentary, best-selling authors Robert S. McGee (“The Search for Significance”) and Caryl Matrisciana (“Gods of the New Age”) discuss the underlining significance of Harry Potter and draw parallels between Harry and true witchcraft. The video confronts the issue of occultic influence on our society and warns concerned parents of the occultic symbols applied in the Harry Potter series.
But before we get caught up in battling Harry hysteria, we need to know if Harry Potter is just a passing craze. If we avoid giving it attention, will it go the way of the Cabbage Patch doll?
The answer, unfortunately, is not for a long, long time.
A U.S. consumer research survey claims that more than half of all children between the ages of 6 and 17 have read at least one of the Harry Potter books. The books have been translated into 40 languages. An Associated Press report estimates that Harry Potter merchandise could generate sales of several hundred million dollars in one year. Jim Silver, publisher of The Toy Book, an industry monthly, said, “It looks like the product has legs and will be a strong seller for the holidays.” And Warner Brothers, along with Mattel and Coca Cola, is mounting a global campaign that will keep the Harry Potter franchise alive for years to come. Harry Potter sequels, toys, trading cards, computer games, videos and marketing tie-ins are all aimed at not just the pre-teens of this year, but of next year and each year after that.
The first Harry Potter book was published in 1998, and it would appear that this character will be a part of the school-age culture for quite some time. So, yes, it is a subject that must be discussed with discernment.
Linda Beam writes in an article for Focus on the Family, “Anytime the dark side of the supernatural world is presented as harmless or even imaginary, there is the danger that children will become curious and find too late that witchcraft is neither harmless nor imaginary. In a culture with an obvious trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology, parents need to consider the effects that these ideas may have on young and impressionable minds.”
In the Jeremiah Films video Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged, it is stated, “The Pagan Federation is claiming that TV programs Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch have fueled a rapidly growing interest in witchcraft among children. The organization says it deals with an average of 100 inquiries a month from youngsters who want to become witches and claims it has occasionally been ‘swamped’ with calls.”
But isn’t witchcraft just a bunch of hooey? Well, the government has given it religious status, granting tax exemption to the witchcraft organization Wicca. At Amazon.com, more than 1,850 books can be found on the subject of witchcraft. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to marketing witchcraft to children. And there are even chaplains in the military strictly for those who follow the practices of Wicca. One TV network finds the subject matter so appealing to the demographic group it seeks that it has dedicated much of its programming space to include numerous shows about witchcraft, vampirism and other supernatural phenomenon, i.e. “Angel,” “Charmed,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
For many people witchcraft is not just an entertainment genre. In truth, there are millions of practicing witches worldwide.
Members of Wicca believe in revering the mother goddess, the global environment, feminist practices and nature. This “religion” teaches that there is no absolute truth or sin and replaces the patriarchal male creator God of the Bible with a belief in both male and female gods. It instructs its members to embrace spirits and how to use spells and curses to control their lives and the lives of others.
In her book, “Death By Entertainment,” conservative film reviewer Holly McClure states, “My concern for younger children who read these books is the adult-level violence, gore, cruelty, and language along with the scary characters. My concern for the older ones is their getting ‘hooked’ on the stories and desensitized to witchcraft and the occult practices. Some children will handle this issue without a problem, but others won’t.”
McClure goes on to answer those who place J.K. Rowling’s creation in the same category as the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. “If Rowling’s books are truly ideologically on an equal level with The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) or The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkein), then why aren’t more witches praising those Christian authors with the same passion and praise as Rowling? It’s because they relate to her book through the witchcraft. So if witches connect with these books and praise them for their accuracy with the occult, doesn’t it stand to reason that children could become swept up and enamored with the occult in the same way?”
The subjects of witchcraft, divination and other forms of sorcery are mentioned — detested by God, I might add — in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. (“Let no one be found among you … who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.” Deuteronomy 18:10 NIV. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft….” Galatians 5:20.). One must assume from these commandments that God’s Word acknowledges that there is an empowerment to these activities. But Scriptures also make it clear that the powers in question stem from a demonic source. And the Bible is plain about not seeking authority from any foundation other than Jesus Christ (“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:8-10)
Witchcraft is a reality and Harry Potter exploits a true representation of the dark arts. Both J.K. Rowling’s books and the Warner Brothers new film subtly encourage children to learn about casting spells and summon the dark arts as a form of empowerment. Harry Potter is cloaked in adventure, humor and provocative storytelling. His escapades are made to look like innocent morality tales of good versus evil. But in actuality he touts the theory of reincarnation, promotes the use of vengeful spells, and embraces psychic powers to help control his life. Holly McClure adds, “Although Harry represents good, he uses lies and deception and magic to triumph over evil, so the roles of good and bad are blurred.”
Surprisingly, there are a few Christian leaders and periodicals such as Chuck Colson and Christianity Today that aren’t as concerned about Harry Potter’s impact. In Death By Entertainment, Colson describes Rowling’s magic as “purely mechanical, as opposed to occult,” explaining that, “Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals — but they don’t make contact with a supernatural world.” Huh? How can we say it’s okay to be entertained by portrayals of black magic, when the Bible instructs us to avoid such rituals?
Our culture is being bombarded by witchcraft and New Age practices. If the Bible is true and correct, God will not long tolerate a country that condones such evil. Can anything be done to counter practitioners of the occult? If so, it will begin by furnishing churchgoing children and teens informative and spiritually sound instruction.
Thankfully, there are tools available to help parents discern the truth behind the innocent look of this children’s fantasy. Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged – Making Evil Look Innocent is one documentary every parent should have in the household video library. For more information about this video, go to www.jeremiahfilms.com or www.therealpotter.com or call 1-800-828-2290 to order it. Author Richard Abanes has written a perceptive book, “Harry Potter and the Bible” (Horizon Books). Holly McClure dedicates a portion of her book, Death by Entertainment (Lion’s Head) to the examining of Harry Potter and other media mystics that have influenced our popular culture.
That said, I admire the parent who will have the courage to say, “No, you can’t go to see Harry Potter!” We call that tough love, kids.