LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–Millions of children strolling into the new Harry Potter movie, which opens Nov. 16, will get a crash course in occultism, said Richard Abanes, author of “Harry Potter and the Bible,” released last January by Horizon Books.
“We will have millions and millions of kids getting their first look at the occult” at what otherwise may seem to be a “very endearing, fun and stimulating movie,” Abanes said. “At the very least, they will be desensitized to its dangers. I think it will do a lot of harm, from a Christian perceptive.”
Abanes’ book presents his case that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series has dangerous connections to the occult.
Rowlings, in her book series that launched the upcoming movie, takes readers through the early life of Harry Potter, a young wizard-in-training who discovers new magical abilities the evening of his 11th birthday.
Rowling’s four Harry Potter books have sold more than 116 million copies according to The Los Angeles Times, making them one of the most popular children’s book series in history. Some movie experts believe the new Harry Potter movie could shatter existing first-weekend box office sales records.
That’s not good news to Abanes, a Southern Baptist who believes the movie and the books teach anti-Christian lessons on the occult and ethics. Abanes has been studying the occult for much of the past decade, writing almost a dozen books on the subject. He first became interested in the occult while working as an assistant researcher with the Christian Research Institute.
Abanes turned his attention to the Harry Potter phenomenon after being skeptical of early Christian critics of the books. As he read them for himself, he discovered legitimate problems with their potential effects on children. He then decided Christian parents needed to have tools to decide for themselves about Harry Potter.
“I wanted to get good solid documentation into the hands of parents and educators about what some of those problems were,” Abanes said.
In the first part of his book, Abanes summarizes each of the four Harry Potter novels and then explains much of the occultic meanings behind them. In the second part of the book, Abanes gives readers background information on the dangers of the occult and takes a look at what has become a worldwide Harry Potter phenomenon.
Not everyone agrees with Abanes’ assessment of Harry Potter. Several high-profile evangelicals have publicly said Rowling’s books are harmless or can even teach positive moral lessons. Abanes disagrees.
“I don’t know whether they have only read small parts of it and are trying desperately to go with the flow and not make Christians seem backwards, or if their discernment is just at an all-time low, but some of the statements they are making are just false,” Abanes said. “It’s unfortunate because I think it is really confusing people.”
Besides getting kids hooked on the occult, Abanes has two other major concerns about the Harry Potter series: the series teaches children moral relativism and desensitizes children to profanity and off-color humor.
Abanes advises parents to be actively involved if their children delve into Harry Potter’s world by reading the books first. They should prepare themselves to contrast the ethics and morality Rowlings presents with what God presents in the Bible.
“I want parents to do what God wants them to do,” Abanes said. “My ministry is to give people information, truth and facts. I’ll leave the rest between them and God. I don’t believe that these books are good for their children, but I’m not going to tell parents what to do. I don’t even believe I can.”
Abanes believes not being a parent himself actually helped him research Harry Potter objectively.
“I was not overly concerned with either shielding my kids from something dangerous or cutting them off from something that was potentially fun,” Abanes said. “I didn’t have any emotional link to the book.”
Abanes served on staff at Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., from 1997 through 2000 as the church’s creative arts director. Still a member of the church and a frequent soloist during worship services, Abanes left the staff in the summer of 2000 to focus on writing books fulltime.
An accomplished musician, Abanes also has produced two solo Christian albums and performed in Broadway musicals.
Abanes just finished a new book on Mormonism, which should hit bookstores in February 2002.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: RICHARD ABANES.