There is a popular series of books for children called the Harry Potter books. I have heard some criticism of these, but I don’t know the specific objections. Can you provide any information on this?

The four Harry Potter books have been a best-selling phenomenon over the past several years. According to recent reports, more than thirty million copies have been sold worldwide, and the books remain near the top of the international bestseller lists.

But the popular volumes have become a controversial addition to classrooms in America, as well as elsewhere in the world. News reports claim they were the most challenged books of 1999. Efforts to restrict their use or remove them from classrooms and school libraries were reported in nineteen states.

I have not personally reviewed any of the Harry Potter books, though I have seen several critiques of the series.Professor Alan Ingalls, a seminary instructor in Pennsylvania, charges that the books are flawed in several particulars. He alleges:

Potter desensitizes our society to the occult. Harry Potter treats the occult and its practices as neutral and in some cases as useful. Harry Potter has become a poster boy for witchcraft, and the pagans are delighted that he is creating a good image for them. Those who read Harry Potter uncritically may be desensitized to a way of life that God condemns in the strongest possible terms.

Potter promotes curiosity and experimentation with the occult. There is a danger that some will decide to experiment with the occult [by reading this material].

Potter removes God and moral absolutes. The books have no Creator God who reveals His will and His ways to mankind (2001, 2).

One movement in Australia wants the books that are placed in school libraries marked with a warning label. Those leading the protest claim:

The ordinary person [in a Potter book] is typified as being bad because [he has] no (magic) powers, and heroes are the people who are using the occult. Good finds itself in the occult.

This concept, of course, is quite contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures.

For a more thorough review, see the article, “More clay than Potter” by Anne McCain and Susan Olasky, which appeared in World magazine (October, 30, 1999).