Why Catholic School Bans ‘Harry Potter’

Literature and religion existed next to each other for a long time. Without writing, the ability of human beings to express themselves in words, religious texts would not be around for people to familiarize themselves with. Since a long time ago, people have been recording their beliefs and the laws/rules that came out of divine teachings. However, the modern world has changed as individuals and the population itself has become rather diverse, so there are instances when religion or personal beliefs are taken to an extreme. This type of situation can be observed in the request to ban Harry Potter books in one of the schools.

One of the parents claims to be a strong believer in God and the Bible, and finds Harry Potter books to be wrong for children as they contain Satanic propaganda and encourage children to follow an evil path. In order to look into the matter, Christianity and Satanism, as well as human rights must be considered and defined. Since the complaint is based on the fact that the parent is a Christian, it would be appropriate to consider the beliefs that Christianity propagates. Even though there is no exact definition, Christian principles rest on three things: The Bible is free of any error, the modern study of the Bible is improper and people, who do not share the same views as fundamentalists, cannot be considered as proper believers (Brummer, 1992).

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Another perspective adds to this definition by claiming that the Bible should be taken as factual recollection of events, which are the exact and truthful definitions of science, history and morality. From one perspective it is understandable where such views would come from. Reason bases itself on a rational thinking of a wise and educated human being. Religion is what is taught by the culture, society, family and possibly friends. In the modern world, there are many people who have analyzed the situation and came to the conclusions. The fact that there are many religions and each of them has its own story shows that people’s beliefs can differ in relation to the divine. In the case of the parent wanting to ban Harry Potter books so that some children would not be able to see things from the different perspective, this parent might as well go as far as to want to ban all other religions because they differ from the teachings of the Bible, which seems preposterous. The close relationship between Christianity, culture, science and psychology is actually the same thing.

In banning any type of the book on religious grounds, the school board must take into account that interpretation of the Bible in the process of reading is what makes it different for each person. Of course it would be unacceptable to expose children to the evil in literature, however strong evidence is needed to prove this fact. As the parent stated, the book describes Satanism, so a definition of the concept would be needed. The specifics of Satanism indicate that to be called “Satanic” a person or a group of people must have a strong belief in the Lucifer, worship him as the ruler of the Earth and the rest of the world, and live only according to the rules provided by Satan. In the Harry Potter books, there is no such thing as Satanism, but the parent insists that children are taught to worship the Devil by this book. The interpretation given to the teachers, principal and the school board is that Rowling’s books are built on magic, which goes against the Bible. Also, the parent notes that having free will and seeing things from a perspective different than that of the Bible is Satanic and evil. This statement goes against all other beliefs and religions, relying heavily only on interpretation of the Divine through Christianity. The modern times have brought about talks about the unity of all kinds of religious texts. With the rationalization period, famous philosophers have questioned some components of the Torah, which was thought to be a unified text of Christianity (Coogan, 2007).

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It is also noted that several texts describe unique relationship between people and God. Sometimes, it is close and sometimes somewhat distant. There is no denying that Christian laws of “do not kill, respect the neighbor and yourself” are based on the wisdom of the world and all creation. Psychology and other sciences offer essentially concrete laws that determine the life of a human being. If a person is sane and healthy, he/she understands that hurting anything that is alive is wrong and this is based on the fact that if one does not want to be hurt, he/she should not hurt others. This is exactly why human society is built on rational and logical laws that are not based absolutely on religion. The constitution, as well as the rights of a person, guarantees that all public or social institutions will be free of religious beliefs or criteria as no one has the right to tell or demand of others what to believe and what guidelines to follow. After all, the Bible and other Christian religious texts have the same thing in common, which is to live by highest moral principles. However, life is too diverse to have a connection to the Bible, so people should interpret it as a valuable and wise guide, and not as a form of law or requirement.

In order to understand the perspective of the parent, the book of Harry Potter must be examined in detail. The story of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone describes situations and forces that seem magical and non-existent in the real world. But at a closer look one could wonder how “magical” these forces are and whether it might be possible to see them in the human world. Harry Potter lives in a universe where there is a constant battle between good and evil. In reality, good and evil are related concepts, which are highly dependent on the way the person defines them. Personal experiences and general view on life create an individual’s perspective. For example, when Dumbledore was saying that Voldemort was unable to kill Harry Potter, it was obvious that he was describing an evil force (Rowling, 1997). The Bible does exactly the same; it presents an evil force and then shows how God or human beliefs have fought it off. At the same time this can be seen as a beginning of Harry Potter as a person of great importance, and this fact could only be reassuring to children who are building their characters by reading such books. So the evil force here can be qualified as a positive push in the right direction.

The same happens in the real life; hardships and struggles often make a person stronger, delivering him/her to a new beginning. Harry Potter, being a major character, represents the good side of the world’s forces. The fact that a helpless child was spared by an unexpected turn of events, proves that he was meant for great things. Apart from that, the fact that Harry was mistreated by his “adoptive” parents, patiently taking the unfair treatment, makes the reader feel sympathy for Harry and for his strength during the hard times. Another proof that Harry Potter is a positive character, who represents good forces, is the way the mystical force helps him to alleviate the grimness of his days. When he was looking at and talking to the magical Python, it was obvious that such force would only choose a person who was worthy of having such power (Rowling). This specifically demonstrates that Harry Potter is not evil, and does not worship anything that is Satanic, on the contrary, he is constantly fighting for the good, using white magic, even at times when he is treated unfairly or evil is used against him.

When the committee is making the decision, it must consider two distinct points, one is based on religion or belief, and the other is based on free rational thinking or logic and equal
fairness towards all people. The line that is drawn between Christianity and psychology is the philosophical study of truth, nature of the world and nature of humanity (Entwistle, 2010). Every person thinks about the reasons for his/her life and how it is connected to other things that exist in the world. Philosophy is the study of life and the search for reasons why it was created. The thoughts about nature of the world, human nature and life in general, all boil down to the same fact, which supposes a great purpose that everyone must find out by themselves, not through the beliefs of others. If the board succumbs to the pressure of a smaller number of people, it means that people without concern for the thoughts of others will dictate their will. People’s beliefs are their own private matters, and it is unacceptable to take those beliefs to the public and social institutions (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).

Religion is meant to teach people that there is something more to life than what is visible to the naked eye. Simply hearing what the purpose of life is would not mean anything to a person; one must come to this realization by himself/herself through feeling and understanding. It is obvious that there is a connection and close dependence between human beings and Nature. The only reason people continue to exist is because Nature and all it entails supports human life. Without air, plants, animals and other necessary elements, the world would be empty and lifeless, similar to the space. The same is described in the Harry Potter books, the magical coexistence of all sorts of good creatures, who find a way to live in peace and unite when fighting against evil.

Parents should fight against enemies or forces that do not accept both, faith and reason. These people are misaligned with both, Christianity and psychology, because they are unable to understand what each of them is. This kind of a person has never really thought about life or existence and has never questioned his/her soul and mind. Extreme fanatics of faith are thought to be fooling themselves and their faith, and can be compared to those who kill in the name of religion. This belief is highly selfish, as it is focused on the personal gain and is not preoccupied with the lives of others. For example, colonists base all their opinions on religion, without really thinking about the true reasons, and force their views onto others, which is wrong on any level. The same would happen in case certain types of books are banned based on the views of some people. As a result, the whole movements and mental “worlds” would cease to exist. Free thinking and learning about other perspectives unites Christianity and psychology and creates a process where each one adds on to the other and helps to figure out the true understanding of the matters (Gort, 2002). There is no doubt that psychology and rational thinking describe people’s thoughts. However, it is very hard to explain feelings using psychology. The emotion of a person is very individual and everyone has their own understanding of life. Religion is the belief that an individual possesses towards the world and the events that take place in it. It is near to impossible to contemplate the unique connection between thoughts and feelings. Christianity and psychology have a very complex relationship and it is hard to examine people’s thoughts and feelings using science and religion. Everyone is filled with a variety of ideas and feelings. Genetics and childhood constitute a big part of a person but there is always something unexplained that makes up a person’s identity.

Taking the presented evidence into consideration, it is clear that banning the book from the library, classroom or school cannot take place. Religion and psychology are closely tied in explaining what life is all about, however religion is a private matter of each person. If parents think that some book is unacceptable for them or their children, they should contact the teacher and ask for a different assignment for their child, but they should not speak on behalf of other people, whose point of view they do not know. Every person is filled with emotions and thoughts, and sometimes it is difficult to avoid voicing a critical opinion about someone. Humans are highly emotional beings and often get caught up in the moment. It must be the goal of every human being to become more patient, kind and understanding towards others. Even if someone does something wrong it is one’s duty to forgive this person, understand his/her reasons and in some cases even try to make this person realize that it is better to be kind and forgiving than angry and revengeful. A ban of the book is not an option, however, asking to change the assignment for one person, who finds the topic to be a problem, is the most appropriate decision to make.

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