The ideas behind the books

Is Harry Potter really evil?

Did you hear about the teacher who excluded Harry Potter from the classroom because he's a wizard?

He's not alone. There is quite a movement in America that regards Harry Potter as unsuitable reading for children. The religious fundamentalist argument against Harry Potter, is this:

It is stated explicitly in the Bible 'You shall not practice augury or witchcraft' (Leviticus 20 v26). There are several similar references.

As I say elsewhere, (in my article Censorship, morality and the law), I would not reject outright any moral teachings from the Bible, and if the teacher in question, or groups of parents, don't want to hold up Harry Potter as an acceptable book for children to read, I would recognise and respect that view.

Someone said to me that wizards and witchcraft might be explicitly banned in the Old Testament because the people needed specific guidance that they must not follow the path of darkness, which was witchcraft. The argument proceeded, that in our sophisticated society no one really believes there are actually wizards in pointy hats flying about the place and therefore we do not need to outlaw witchcraft, as such, any more and we can tolerate books like Harry Potter. 

I might reply that elements within our 'sophisticated society' actually rely heavily on superstition, like horoscopes for example, and we are in just as much need as ever of guidance on treading the path between Good and Evil.

If we can leave aside the specific argument about wizards in pointy hats, and look at the general advice that we should avoid the path of darkness, I would have to say that Harry Potter seems to me to be an eminently acceptable book for children to read. It is highly moral, in the sense that good prevails over evil every time. No-one is encouraged to side with Voldemort and the powers of darkness. We all side with Harry and Professor Dumbledore. And Dumbledore, as the 'elder' wizard on site is presented as massively benevolent, avuncular and totally beyond reproach.

There have always been characters in children's stories who possess magical powers. The theme of opposing sides battling between good and evil recurs endlessly, no doubt because it is a message that is important to us all, that we must choose between opposing paths.