The Harry Potter series is a collection of seven books about a ‘wizarding’ world hidden in modern day Britain. The books follow three main characters, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley from their first-year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to adulthood. Throughout the series, the trio fight the series’ primary antagonist, Lord Voldemort, and experience the thrills of youth, such as first love and adventure. The Harry Potter Books have been called modern classics and are a staple to many kids’ leisure reading. Some of the most prevalent themes across all seven books include courage, death, friendship, and, perhaps the most prevalent of all, good versus evil. The first book, The Sorcerer’s Stone was published in 1997, and the final book, The Deathly Hollows was published in 2007. The series has since been adapted into an eight-film series and a spin-off film series, also penned by Rowling, called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Though loved by many worldwide, the Harry Potter series has not gone without challenge and criticism. Depictions of witchcraft are the primary reason for the challenges. While many readers view the series as a family-friendly series, some religious critics have accused the books of containing content that could encourage curiosity about or even the practice of witchcraft. The Christian Bible condemns the practice of witchcraft (for example, in Galations 5:20-21 or 1 Chronicles 10:13). It is important to note that these criticisms are not about the depiction of fantasy or supernatural elements, but rather are based on the belief and fear that “magic” is a real power that exists in the world and reading the Harry Potter series could cause physical and spiritual damage if someone were to try to practice magic themselves. Thus, schools and religious communities have repeatedly tried to ban the Harry Potter books. As recently as 2019, a Catholic school in Tennessee decided to stop lending the Harry Potter series from their library.
JK Rowling has responded to these criticisms, firmly asserting that she “absolutely did not start writing these books to encourage any child into witchcraft.” In fact, Rowling identifies as a practicing Christian and has publicly stated that she intentionally used religious parallels in her writing, but never disclosed these influences because, “it might show people, who just wanted the story, where we were going.” Though the Harry Potter series continues to be a popular series, it is not uncommon to hear of families, schools, and institutions debating what to do about the wands and magical spells.
About the Author
JK Rowling is a British writer. Since publishing the Harry Potter books, she has become the world’s first “billionaire author.” Although the Harry Potter series has ended, Rowling remains heavily involved in the Harry Potter community and continues to expand the Harry Potter universe. She authors content for the website Pottermore, a fan-led website all about the series. JK Rowling has also had a role in the Harry Potter films, as well as the Fantastic Beasts film series. In both, she had a role in producing and advising during the film shooting and editing.