Should Christians Be Reading "Harry Potter?"

Boy reading a Harry Potter softcover book
Andrew Fox / Getty Images

Should Christians be reading the "Harry Potter" books? This question raises huge amounts of debate among Christian experts. Some equate the books with the fantasy novels written by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien while others believe that the books promote the occult through witchcraft and spells. Let's take a closer look at some of the arguments surrounding these seven books.

The Objections to Harry Potter

While millions of people around the world read and enjoy the "Harry Potter" books, there are many people that object to the content of the Harry Potter books, stating that they go against the word of God. The objections are based on the Bible teaching that practicing witchcraft or other occult acts is a sin.

Objections to "Harry Potter" usually reference Deuteronomy 18:10-12, "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you." (NKJV)

These Christians believe that the books promote the modern religions of Wicca, Paganism, and Neopaganism. They point to the terms "witch," "wizard," and the variety of spells presented in the books as leading children and Christian teens down the path to the occult.

Other Christians believe that the novels are just pure fantasy, but they object to the dark nature of the books for younger children. As the books go on they become more violent, scary, and people die. Some parents believe that these book's violent undertones promote violence in children.

Finally, many Christians have an issue with the moral ambiguity presented in the books. J.K. Rowling has presented a world where moral questions do not always have clear answers, and this presents an issue for some parents who feel her characters are not being appropriate role models for their children. There are good characters that commit murder and other good characters that lie and steal. Some characters are considered "evil," but Rowling presents them as having psychology that makes them somewhat sympathetic. Also, there are some references to swear words that offend some Christian teens and adults.

The Positive Side of Potter

Are you surprised to hear that there are Christians that actually stand behind reading the "Harry Potter" books? While many conservative Christian groups have gotten a lot of press with talks of book burnings and banning the books from school shelves, there is also a large contingent of Christians that see Harry Potter as a fantasy character in a fantasy world. They equate the books with those written by Tolkien and Lewis.

The pro-Harry Potter Christians believe that the books do a good job of describing a world where good and evil are not always obvious while giving readers a hero on the "good side" fighting evil. They also applaud the virtues of compassion, loyalty, courage, and friendship present in many of the main characters.

These Christians also denounce the idea that the witchcraft present in the novels represents anything close to Wicca or new age beliefs. Many of the people on the side of Harry Potter books believe that it is up to parents to discuss occult practices with their children and explain why Christians do not participate in occult religions. They also advocate parents discussing the darker aspects of the novels with their children, opening up the door of communication between Christian parents and their children.

The pro-Harry Potter Christians also stand behind the author's statement that she does not believe magic even exists, only using it as a plot device to tell a story. They believe other Christian authors have used magic as plot devices, and the magic used in the stories is not the same magic Christians are warned about in Deuteronomy.

So, Should You Read "Harry Potter?"

Most Christians stand on one side or the other when it comes to the Harry Potter books, and there are biblical experts on both sides of the Harry Potter argument. If you are considering reading the "Harry Potter" books, then you may want to sit down with your parents first. Talk to them about what they believe. Wheaton College professor Alan Jacobs describes the "Harry Potter" books as having "the possibility for serious moral reflection," and that reflection should come from a discussion with the others in your life.

There are cases when "Harry Potter" should be avoided. While most Christian teens considering reading the "Harry Potter" books never turn to occult practices, some Christian teens may have a background that makes reading the books tempting, because there are some Christian teens that have been drawn in toward occult practices at some point and time in their lives. If you feel you will be tempted back into the occult from reading the books, then you may want to avoid them.

The argument over whether or not Christian teens should be reading "Harry Potter" will continue. Anyone who is not sure about the books can read more from experts that have written books on both the pros and cons of the books. Discussion, prayer, and strong consideration should be given to any subject that remains as controversial as Harry Potter.

General Information

Author: J.K. Rowling

Book Titles:

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Philosopher's Stone in U.K.)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Mahoney, Kelli. "Should Christians Be Reading "Harry Potter?"." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Mahoney, Kelli. (2020, August 27). Should Christians Be Reading "Harry Potter?". Retrieved from Mahoney, Kelli. "Should Christians Be Reading "Harry Potter?"." Learn Religions. (accessed June 1, 2023).