A Roman Catholic school in Tennessee has banished JK Rowling’s universally popular series of Harry Potter novels from its library shelves after its pastor took exception to their portrayal of magic, warning the spells and curses the author describes are real and “risk conjuring evil spirits” when read.
The Reverend Dan Reehill explained his decision in an email to the parents of students at St Edward Catholic School in Nashville, declaring that he had consulted with exorcists in the US and at the Vatican before outlawing the seven-volume tale of the boy wizard’s career at Hogwarts and his battle against Lord Voldermort and the forces of darkness.
“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text,” the Reverend Reehill wrote, apparently in all seriousness.
Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, told The Tennessean that the Reverend Reehill had indeed sent the email and has the final say on the matter since the Catholic Church does not have an official position on Ms. Rowling’s best-selling series.
“Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school,” she said. “He’s well within his authority to act in that manner.”
The school has recently opened a new library for its students, Ms. Hammel explained, prompting the faculty to reassess its catalog.
“I know that in the process they were going through and kind of weeding out some of the content in hopes of sprucing it up and improving the circulation,” she said.
Ms. Hammel did say the school would not stand in the way of students reading Harry Potter at their parents’ discretion.
“Should parents deem that this or any other media to be appropriate we would hope that they would just guide their sons and daughters to understand the content through the lens of our faith,” Hammel said.
“We don’t get into censorship in such selections other than making sure that what we put in our school libraries is age-appropriate materials for our classrooms.”