Ross Olson's Web Site

Social Issues: Letters

Letter to the authors of an article in Christian Research Journal favorable to Harry Potter

Dear Mr. and Mrs. ____

I am a public school teacher of 29 years and have been a part time Children's Ministry director for an evangelical church. I was extremely disappointed in your editorial dismissing the Harry Potter phenomena as harmless, that you would take a 6 year old to the Harry Potter movie, and the assertion that Harry Potter is a tool to bring people to the Lord. While it is possible that the Harry Potter phenomena can be used with non-Christian children as jumping off point, this does not justify taking evangelical children to Harry Potter for fun.
I would highly recommend to you The Bible and Harry Potter by Richard Abanes and Jeremiah Films' Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged. It is hard to believe that Richard Abanes, who is a regular on Hank's show and a very wise man, would be characterized by you as "misguided" and as "silly" or "ignorantly prejudiced" because of his book!

I sense that you have not researched this topic very thoroughly before writing your opinion. Chuck Colson has said recently "I don't recommend Harry Potter to anyone" in contrast to his first endorsement. This is serious business. I'm sure you don't want to be responsible for encouraging non-discerning parents to give cart blanche endorsement to their children of Harry. I certainly don't want to "make one of these little ones to stumble". I think Harry poses a potential danger which you trivialize. You say you don't recommend Harry to everyone, but you say it such a way that indicates only a dolt wouldn't approve.

Even if someone discounts the witchcraft aspect of Harry, Rowling's books teach situation ethics, reward rule breaking and promote the Wiccan creed of "if no harm be done, do as you please." The books become increasingly dark and crude. A spell calling for a fetus, ingredients such as a freshly chopped off hand, Harry's blood, and the bone of the murdered father of Voltemort are hardly things that are pure and lovely or "six year old" fare. It is no secret that Harry's sexuality will be a topic in upcoming books and films. While you dismiss Harry's magic, you fail to realize Rowling has done her homework on the occult. The web sites on the real occult are easily accessible to children who have had their interest aroused. The published books for teacher's guides in public schools encourage projects delving into research project on real witches and wizards. My wife's elementary school principal took a stand saying that Harry Potter should not be used as part of the curriculum because he is poor role model and for such parts as the use of a fetus in a spell. This is interesting that a secular principal could see the problem when the evangelical world takes their 6 year olds to the movie and embrace it. Other points to consider are:

1. While Narnia and Middle Earth of classic Christian authors Tolkien and Lewis are mythopoetic, while Harry's world is modern. Young children confuse fiction and reality. In the Lord of the Rings, good characters are truly good and evil characters are truly evil. When good characters make mistakes and sin, they pay a consequence unlike Harry. The type of magic used in Narnia and Middle Earth is also very different from Rowling's.

2. Power (good or evil ) comes from the same source in the Harry Potter series. Whether good or evil triumphs depends upon who is the better master.

3. Doug Groothuis of Denver Seminary (hardly a misguided nor ignorantly prejudiced person) reminds us in the forward to Abanes' book, "That this is serious business. We would do well to remember Jesus' sobering words: '.., whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck..,". In our fallen world, many forms of evil masquerade as innocent and harmless fun. They are often accepted with little evaluation. Some celebrate that children are reading the massive Potter books instead of watching T.V. They need to think again..,"

Would you also include "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series, Stephen King's books and "Dungeons and Dragons" in the harmless category? It is an easy step for parents to take from Harry Potter to these other occult areas.

It is not what the world does with Harry Potter, it is what Christian homes will do with him. I am not a book burner, and Harry should remain on school library shelves, but not in the church library. I am not going to let modern media dictate my morals. A friend of mine at church was upset with me at first for opposing Harry Potter. His argument was "Kids see worse on T.V." Is that the standard by which we discern right from wrong in the modern evangelical church? This is not to say that there are not fun and enchanting characters in the book and movie. (I did view the movie.)

There is really no comparison of Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter. As you correctly point out Tolkien was a devout Christian and while Rings is not an allegory it does have a strong moral base where evil is truly evil and situation ethics are rejected. An example was when men wanted to use the evil of the Ring to conquer the worse evil of Sauron and that reasoning was rejected. I would argue your assertion that Harry Potter has a clear good vs. evil. It does not!

Perhaps you think of me as a "muggle" for writing this, but I think you are off base and have done harm discouraging weak-kneed parents from taking a stand on Harry, something that they will perhaps later regret.

Bryan Olson
14513 Bowers Drive
Ramsey, MN 55303
Sept. 8th 2002

CC: Editor Christian Research Journal

Send comments to me at ross{at}

The URL for this document is