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Many Christian groups were up in arms when the Harry Potter books first began to gain momentum and popularity. Why? Some Christian groups fear that the use of the occult in the Harry Potter books will cause impressionable young readers to abandon Christian ideals in favor of the occult. JK Rowling and her publishers have had to deal with considerable protest and backlash from Christian groups since 1999. According to the American Library Association, the Harry Potter books have been at the top of their lists as the most protested books in recent years. Some conservative American churches have chosen to ban the Harry Potter books altogether.

The main groups that protest the Harry Potter are fundamentalist Christian groups that argue that the Harry Potter books promote pagan imagery and ideas. They believe that any pagan imagery is dangerous, especially when they are impressed upon the minds of young, impressionable readers in the Harry Potter books. One spokesman for Focus on the Family argues that while the Harry Potter books do show good triumphing over evil, the books lessons about honor, loyalty, friendship and courage are overshadowed by the strong presence of evil and pagan imagery. Moreover, these conservative groups often argue, all of the Harry Potter stories are inevitably packaged in the medium of witchcraft. The stars of the Harry Potter booksâ€"Harry and his pals Ron and Hermioneâ€"attend a school called the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They wear witches hats and learn how to conduct charms and spells. Without a doubt, these conservative groups argue, the book is riddled in pagan imagery, thought, and ritual. Pagan imagery and witchcraft, these groups argue, is denounced specifically in Holy Scripture.

In 2002, a company called Chick Publications published a now-famous anti-Harry Potter tract called “The Nervous Witch.” In “The Nervous Witch,” two teenagers become involved in witchcraft as a result of reading the Harry Potter books. The comic book famously predicted that the Harry Potter books would be causing the spiritual fall of millions of kids, and would lead to them eventually heading to hell. The company who created the comic book also produced an accompanying DVD that was called “Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged.” The DVD denounced what the group saw as immoral practices in the Harry Potter groups, including the alleged ritualistic drinking of animal blood, demon possession, and human sacrifice. The fundamentalist Christian protests of the Harry Potter books have been lampooned by sources as diverse as The Onion newspaper to the Simpson’s TV show.

Members of the Vatican have also made statements about the Harry Potter books, but the Catholic Church has sent mostly mixed messages, with some spokespeople arguing that the books put too much emphasis on Satan and his power, while others have stated that the books are a force of good because they show the ultimate conquest of good over evil. Harsh criticism came from one priest who argued that the Harry Potter books opened the reader’s mind to the possibility of Satan. He also argued that the books make a false distinction between white and black magic. In truth, the priest argue, there is no “good” or “bad” magic. He argued that all sorts of magic and charms are not acceptable by traditional Christian standards.

Despite the criticism that the Harry Potter books have received from assorted Christian books, the books wide popularity has not receded. It appears that most fans of the Harry Potter books and films view them as a source of entertainment that does not promote pagan values or cause impressionable readers to dabble seriously in the occult.

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