Pope: Potter No Problem
official: the pope has signed off on Harry
Addressing reporters at a press conference in
Vatican City yesterday, a papal representative gave
the Harry Potter books a thumbs-up.
"They aren't serving as a banner for an
anti-Christian ideology," said Reverend Don Peter
Fleetwood, a member of the Pontifical Council for
Culture. He added that he didn't see "any problems
in the Harry Potter series."
What a relief. Now the boy wizard can fly across
America on his broomstick, safe from the clutches
of religious zealots. After all, if the head of the
Catholic church gives the books his seal of
approval, that should dispel any claims that the
series corrupts children's minds, right?
Somehow, I doubt it. I've learned never to
underestimate the ignorance of the religious right
in this country. In case the story escaped your
notice last February, the police department of
Penryn, Pennsylvania refused to direct traffic for
a YMCA triathlon because it claimed the club
promoted witchcraft by reading the Harry Potter
books to children. "I don't feel right taking our
children's minds and teaching them (witchcraft),"
said Penryn Police Captain Robert Fichthorn.
That episode was certainly not the first time
that Harry Potter felt the fire of religious zeal.
Just a few months before Fichthorn's crusade,
Potter literally felt the flames when a New Mexico
church lit a "holy bonfire" into which the local
pastor encouraged his flock to throw Harry Potter
books and anything else from their homes that
prevented them from communicating with God. "Harry
Potter is the devil and he is destroying people,"
said Pastor Jack Brock of Christ Community Church
in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
cannot believe that any secular book,
character or movie advocating witchcraft
of any kind could be this wildly
successful without Satan having an agenda
L. Zebel, Applewood Baptist Church, Wheat
Such fanaticism continues unabated. Just three
weeks ago, the American Library Association
announced its "Ten Most Challenged Books" list,
putting the Harry Potter series at the top of the
list for the fourth year in a row. In 2002, the
books received 515 challenges, which the ALA
defines as "a formal, written complaint, filed with
a library or school requesting that materials be
removed because of content or appropriateness."
With such wild hysteria over an innocuous
children's fantasy series, I find it highly
unlikely that such fanatics will heed the Vatican's
pronouncement that the Harry Potter books "help
children to see the difference between good and
evil." As long as imaginations can be quashed by
literal interpretations of Biblical texts, the
religious right will continue its battle against
the boy wizardand anything else that
conflicts with its dogma.
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