How Harry Potter Corrupts Our Children

Harry Potter and the Death that Follows

“Always the innocent are the first victims . . . So it has been for ages past, so it is now.”
Ronan (Yr 1, 253)

Father Jim Costigan, CPM

Father Jim Costigan CPM, Fr. Jim Costigan, I love Harry. I admire him for his courage, for his fight against evil, and for his love of and loyalty to his family and friends. I love Hermione and I respect her scholarly industry and her concern to play (and fight) by the rules. Even Ron – who annoys me most of the time with his many little acts of meanness and cheapness – I love when he generously sacrifices himself at clutch moments, as he did on that giant chessboard (Yr 1, 283). I love Dumbledore for protecting young Harry, for his wisdom and magnanimity, his patience and tolerance. I love Severus for the hidden love and goodness in him that no one (except Dumbledore) has any inkling of. I love Remus and Tonks, McGonagall and Moody. I especially love Luna and Neville and Molly Weasley. And so, naturally, I love Joanne Kathleen Rowling for her masterful telling of a story that thrills me and scares me, that makes me laugh and makes me cry; I love her for describing villains I wish I could stab and heroes I wish I could hug.

And therein lurks the trouble.

It’s proverbial : the best lies have the most truth; the most seductive evil appears as beautiful good. And if intelligent Christian parents who are careful about what they allow their children to read and who know, however dimly, that magic means sorcery – a grave evil, a violation of the First Commandment, a direct offense against God Himself – if these parents are not on their guard with the Harry Potter stories, then there are reasons they’re in the dark. What reasons? Well, perhaps we enjoy the novels ourselves, we get caught up in the adventure, we come to love Harry and his friends, and our critical faculty gets lulled to sleep. Or, confronted with the unprecedented success of the series, their garnering of nearly every literary laurel for children’s books, their endorsement by educators, publishers, critics, media stars, clergymen – that smiling mass of experts – we may doubt that our fears can be right, our objections valid; we wonder if we are not overreacting.

“Lighten up,” we’re told. “It’s just fantasy, make-believe, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. You let your kids read Tolkien and Lewis, right? Where’s the harm?”

Here’s the harm

Our heroes are sorcerers. The characters we admire spend seven years studying, and a lifetime becoming proficient in, something that is intrinsically and gravely evil – sorcery. No room for doubt here. Magic is good, Dark Magic bad. This is a false dichotomy. In the real world, in God’s Eyes, all sorcery, the manipulation of preternatural powers – which means, yes, demons – is dark, is evil. White magic/black magic opposition is propaganda sold us by the occultists themselves. The end justifies the means. This should be a bright red flag for American Christians. As we contracept for the good of our marriages and kill babies and old people for wonderful long-range goals, so Harry, Ron, and Hermione lie, cheat, steal, and harm others so that someday Voldemort will be defeated. Muggles are pathetic and/or despicable fools. “Perfectly normal,” “boring,” “law-abiding,” “square owners” of “square houses” —Muggles (non-magical people), as exemplified by the narrow-minded, hideous Dursleys and the timid, inept Prime Minister, are nuisances or burdens to Harry and company, pawns or targets to Voldemort. As a Christian is by definition a Muggle, the message to our children is :

“Magic is fun, hip, exciting, and powerful; your old religion is dull, dumb, dorky, and dead.” Break the rules and win; disobey and be rewarded. Instead of being expelled from Hogwarts for disobeying Madam Hooch’s order not to fly on his broom, Harry is made Seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. This sets a pattern for the whole series – repeated reinforcement of the principle The end justifies the means. Our heroes constantly gain victories, and even the approbation of authority, by bending rules and breaking laws.

“Babies” may be chopped up and stewed – or just left to suffer. Check the treatment a Mandrake (a magical plant described as “a small, muddy, extremely ugly baby . . .”) receives from young witches and wizards in Professor Sprout’s herbology class (Yr 2, 91-94, 234); then take a look at how Harry, safe and secure in the limbo of King’s Cross, responds first with a desire to comfort, then with revulsion, then, finally, with cold indifference to the sufferings of (what is apparently all that is left of Voldemort after the final duel) “ . . . a small, naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed-looking, . . . shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuffed out of sight, struggling for breath (Yr 7, ch 35).” This is horrific stuff, even in the Culture of Death. Especially in the Culture of Death. How about : Harry sites link to Satanism sites on the Net? Is that scary enough?

There’s more. I haven’t gotten into the vulgar language, the gross conversations, and the sexual innuendo; there are the erotically suggestive scenes (Myrtle visiting Harry in the bath); there is the total absence of God (except as a name in casual oaths); there’s the approval of euthanasia (Snape dispatching the ailing Dumbledore); there’s the brutality of magical pranksand this by the good guys; there, in superabundance, are sick jokes about death and torture; there’s the scatological humor – toilets and bathrooms feature as the locales of a tediously disproportionate share of the action; there’s the blending of solid ethical principles with amoral sophistries; there is, throughout the entire saga, the constant utilitarian rationalization for immoral acts – and that out of the mouths not just of Deatheaters and quislings but of McGonagall and Dumbledore; there is for these children the relatively easy access to “restricted books” – volumes in the Hogwarts Library with detailed instructions on how to conjure murder, mayhem, and worse through “forbidden” curses;

Harry’s world is an environment of pervasive child abuse, from careless negligence to sadistic torture, and beyond.

There’s more.

And then there’s more yet. But isn’t this already more than enough for us to say, “I do not want my child reading Harry Potter.” Yeah, Harry’s fun. Yeah, Harry’s unwholesome.

I do love Joanne Kathleen. But her books are pernicious. I have no reason to suspect her of malice. (Well, her outing of Dumbledore was particularly creepy.) But, malicious or not, her stories are corrupting children. The Harry Potter novels are presented to us as an epic tale of the triumph of good over evil. Against impossible odds, by prodigious labors and self-sacrifice, the courageous young wizard conquers the evil dark lord. What actually happens is the defeat of blatant, ugly, darker-than-black evil by subtle, attractive, snow-white-looking evil. This is the snare : grave and intolerable evil, sorcery, is at the core of the entire saga. Evil and error are in the hearts, not just of Voldemort, Bellatrix, and Grayback, but also, however unwittingly, of Dumbledore, Molly, and Harry. Joanne Kathleen herself may be an innocent (because of invincible ignorance), but the worldview in her works is hardcore neopagan and exuberantly, aggressively Wiccan – and is therefore, whether she intends it or not, anti-Christian.

It’s not just the fun – it’s the good, the virtue in Rowling and in her heroes, shining out and obscuring all that evil and error underneath, that moves our children to gobble down this fare with such gusto and delight. Unhappily, they swallow the poison too.


So, what are you thinking?

Do you agree or disagree?

What is your stance on Harry Potter?  Why

Be sure to leave a comment below.

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83 comments to How Harry Potter Corrupts Our Children

  • LW

    The main reason I have resisted reading the series is because I read an article written by a former occultist exposing that several of the names used in the books do actually refer to demons contacted through satanic and wiccan practice. Even naming such a one is an invocation. Come Holy Spirit! Fill us with wisdom and understanding, and if we are going to spend time reading, help us to choose wisely and use each day as though it were to be our last. I have yet to read the whole Bible cover to cover by myself- If I’m going to pick up a many-paged book, I think I better finish that one first. But I now have several good friends whos children are reading these books, and I am tempted to read them myself so I can have authentic discussions with them and their parents, and with my own children. But any dabbling is too much dabbling. My understanding of “magic” in literature such as that of Narnia and Middle Earth is that humans are a part of a greater process of “good vs. evil”, and that when humans (or even wizards) seek the power for their own use, rather than being willing to aid or participate in the plan of one greater than themselves and directing them (Aslan) they don’t further the greater good because they are actally acting contrary to their own nature. To my mind, if we are seeking the amazing, let’s “get in touch” with people like Padre Pio and Joseph of Cupertino etc., and leave all trappings of anything that even reminds us of evil behind.
    4 Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful.

    5 Let your good sense be obvious to everybody. The Lord is near.

    6 Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude,

    7 and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

    8 Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire — with whatever is good and praiseworthy.

    9 Keep doing everything you learnt from me and were told by me and have heard or seen me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

    here is a link to a former witch’s review of the problem of Harry.
    I don’t know who this person is or his or her affilliation, but it does give one pause!

  • Belinda

    Thank you for your article. You have have articulated the dangers of magic, sorcery, etc., very well.There are priest that promote Harry Potter from the pulpit. Maybe we should start with educating our own clergy about the first commandment?

  • Patrice Sweet

    Who do I contact in my diocese, if the parents at a Catholic School are having Harry Potter as the theme for the parents night out? How can I stop it before it happens and what documentation can I use to defend the faith about this? Thank You, Patrice

  • Grace

    I am so confused! My parents are very firm about me not reading the books or watching the movies because they are afraid that I might start liking witchcraft and stuff like that. I don’t really understand this because of the fact that they have never read the books. All of my Catholic friends read them and they are perfectly normal people. I am not someone who is influenced by peer pressure or anything like that and I would never, ever stop loving Jesus! I personally think that in H.P. the difference between good and evil are very clear. I find it strange that my parents let me read fairy tales if they don’t let me read this. Cinderella is the first Disney movie I can remember watching and Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother has a wand and uses magic but is good so why is H.P. so different? I write and act out stories about people with magical powers but they have no problem with that. I know so much more about God then most Catholic children my age. ( which I found out a Catholic retreat)I know everything I need to know for confirmation even though it isn’t till I am in eleventh grade! I do not understand in the slightest bit why I was allowed to read and watch The Hunger Games. Shouldn’t my parents expect me to run around killing people? Why are they so worried? I am very grounded and would never stray from Christ even if it meant dying!

  • Joy

    I love Jesus with all my heart, soul and mind.
    When praying and asking God to bless the house he drew me to the Harry Potter books, in my spirit I felt very angry and
    spoke in tongues over the books and sprinkled them with holy water. They are not my books but my husband who loves them, and watches the films too.
    I cannot understand how a child of God would want to read them?
    The very fact the world loves them should be a warning bell.
    May Christ and his saints bless this wonderful Priest of God who alerts the Lord’s people to such evil.
    Yes the books may have good morals, and look sweet to the taste, my husband even compares the stories to the life of Christ, what blasphemy, that my beautiful Rose of Sharron would be considered on a par with a fictional wizard.
    Why can’t we encourage our children to read the wonderful heroes of the Bible?
    The outcome will be a generation of Children with special needs, interest in the occult, mental disorders and a twisted theology of what Christ is like. Lord have mercy on us all!

  • Anon

    This is garbage and you’ve obviously never read the books, and what little you did, you deliberately interpreted in the worst way possible.

  • Scott Miskowiak

    Good Sir,
    Do you also fail though to see the gospel though in the end? The fact that Harry dies by the hand of evil, and then is resurrected and conquers evil. I am not a Catholic, and do not believe in the legalistic practices of the Catholic faith. I am however a Christian. I have accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. While you are directing your concerns to the sinful acts of the books, you are missing so many biblical lessons. My pastors, all 10 of them, all support fantasy. If you are a concerned parent, this us where you teach your children what to believe and what not to. Use good discernment.

    The reason I used Good Sir and not Father: I do not believe in addressing someone as Father except Father God. I know this is a Catholic site and respect that. But in the churches I attend, we address our leaders as Pastor. And since the author of this article is a priest, I chose to address as Good Sir

    • Chloe

      If you call no man “Father,” what do you call your male parent? The fourth commandment says to honor your father and your mother. In Matthew 23:9, Jesus says that you can call no man Father. Was he contradicting the fourth commandment? Maybe you should give this some thought.

  • Natasha

    I was surprised to hear my husband declare that he heard that Harry Potter series to be found guilty of sorcery, and evil doing by catholics all over the world (as well as rest of christian world).
    Had to find out for myself, googled it and came across your site.
    I’m just starting RCIA and I am just learning what’s what in the world of Christians, but I thought for most part that what I got out of the books was, yes, good magic = good, bad magic = bad. As well as sacrificing oneself for the good of others.

    JKR was masterful at writing her books, I truly loved them, but I also must mention that the time of my life when I was in “love” with the books, was also my darkest time.

    I’m still not convinced, but I trust my husband’s and your authority. At the very least I would like to read Tolkien’s and few other’s classical good works. Then I can truly make a comparison. Until then I’m in NO rush to shove this story down my children’s throats, there are far too many ones that are better.
    Bible, Tolkien, Tostoy, so on and so forth. Just Russian and English/American literature can keep them busy til they’re 40. If they choose to read these nuggets then, well – they’ll be well equipped with Faith, Wisdom and Love to help them decide for themselves.

  • DB

    I am a young man , born and raised catholic, and a devote catholic. I have read all of the Harry Potter books, the first when I was only ten, and I have one thing to address. A frequently raised point against the books is that they send the message that the ends justify the means. This is not true.
    Anyone who read the books should recognize the phrase “For the Greater Good”, this was the motto of Grindlewald, the worst villain in the history of the magical world, who caused a horrible war and committed innumerable atrocities only to be defeated, not killed, by Dumbledore.
    This war is meant to be a parallel to World War II in which Grindlewald wanted to first conquer the magical world and then set the wizards above the non magical people, after which he would fix the world’s problems. He was using the argument that the ends justify the means and that power is proof of superiority and he is shown to have been an ever more evil person than Voldemort. (the main antagonist in the series)

  • KT

    I find the fact that you suggest that I am not a true Christian quite offensive. If I were pro-choice, you would probably have a basis – the Church as a whole opposes abortion. But there is no statement that says, dogmatically, that Harry Potter is satanic, evil, etc. I believe that it’s up to people to be able to make their own choice on it without being judged by their friends.
    PS. And while you’re at it, why don’t you condemn “Star Trek” and “Percy Jackson” and call me non-Christian another time?

    • KT

      I’m going to add another thing. Snape killing Dumbledore wasn’t euthanasia. I suggest you take a closer look at HBP. And as for children lying and cheating and playing pranks . . . well, I hate to break it to you, but that’s exactly what children DO. Children wouldn’t be children if they didn’t to, sinful and immature, yes, things like that. Oh, and children also (*gasp*) have conversations in bathrooms and gross ones, too. In fact, Harry Potter had a lot less conversations about ‘inappropriate’ things than kids do. A heck of a lot less. Kids also make jokes about death and torture and suicide. Not funny at all, but they do.
      Let’s just say that it’s completely irrelevant how easily accessible books on dark magic in the library are. We teach our children about the Holocaust. They know about torture methods and mass execution.

  • Lexy Greenwood

    Harry potter taught me about love and friendship. He taught me to stand my ground and to never give up on what I believe in. It didnt teach me about ‘witchcraft’ or ‘satan’. Love was the main theme of the series, and that love has no limites. They means love will never end. Also harry potter got me closer to God not away from him. What I learn from my Inter- church school: that we learn from harry potter as well. We make mistakes because we are humans and that we try to be perfect but in the end of the day we are just human being of God. If we remove the theme if witchcraft in harry potter then you will still get a young boy struggling to survive in a cruel world. And that we see harry go through though times and the list of his love ones are very tragic but harry potter taught me that the people with love who died never throughly leave us but they still in our hearts for ever. And that conquers all types of evil.

    We ( in reality) face a though world just like harry. We face death and murder in the news just like harry. We face the suffering and hopelessness like harry.

    But no matter what people say I’m a proud Christian and a proud HARRY POTTER FAN.

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  • S

    I am a cathlic 12 year old. The message that I got and still get is that through thick and tough times ALWAYS loyalty and love and friendship well stay strong. And also you should fight for what is right and also protect even your enemies. Harry shows this by staying in the fire with ron and hermione to save draco and the other guy.

  • Paul

    Um, have you read the books? Ultimately the greatest power Harry has is love! His mother’s love saved him from the evil. His love of his friends and classmates ultimately gave him the power to conquer evil. I thinks it’s a pretty good message. Love and understanding, isn’t that what it’s all about?

  • CamCon97

    Dear Father Costigan,
    I applaud this excellent work on the underground dangers of Harry Potter. I am deeply disheartened by how many of my friends, even militant Catholics, read it and defend it in debate. I once heard of something comparable to this; an ostrich with its head buried in the dirt, refusing to accept the reality it is faced with, thus choosing what is called deliberate ignorance. Many of the people who have commented in the negative seem conflicted. You are giving them the truth that they do not want to come in terms with, so they backlash and try to pretend to not be listening, so to speak.
    Someone by the name of “andres” claimed that religion is not legitimate because it is not founded on scientific principles. But there is parallelism between his argument and that of Harry Potter. “I AM THE LORD, THY GOD. THOU SHALT NOT HAVE STRANGE GODS BEFORE THEE.” The first commandment tells us that science is not God. God is truth: the only thing God cannot do is that which is wrong. He is not capable of lying. He is the author of the Bible, the word of God written on paper. And if this sounds like a bunch of “bull—t” to those who are stuck to whatever science says, try looking up what happens to the consecrated Bread and Wine, the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Lab tests show that they indeed change to flesh and blood. Religion is not the stupid and tribal joke modern man tends to make it out to be. People everywhere blaspheme the Son of God like there is no tomorrow but what does that say? My grandfather once said that if you are raising your voice or calling your opponent names, you’ve lost. You have nowhere to go and resort to mudslinging rather than intellectual and rational reasoning.
    God said specifically: no sorcery. That should be enough for all Christians to reject Harry Potter. Jesus said that if we truly love Him as He loves all of us, we will obey the Commandments of His Father. To you reading this, whoever you are, remember that there is nothing that hurts God more than losing one of his children because they refused to abide by his laws. He loves you more than life itself, and He would gladly die that death on the cross if only to save your single and individual soul. Please, for the love of all that is good still left in this world, do not throw your only chance for perfect and eternal happiness in Heaven over what is at first glance a harmless children’s book.

  • Cathy

    whether you believe in this stuff or not doesn’t change the fact that the spiritual realm does exist and demons are real.

    while the books are enticing and the movies are mesmerizing, they are supposed to be! what makes them enticing and mesmerizing is the spiritual powers actually laced within the visual or word pictures. People are being spiritually downloaded with BAD stuff and an inclination set up for more downloads in the future, when they watch this stuff and they don’t realize it. They say its harmless, just pretend and all fun but they are blind to the real reality of what they are reading watching experiencing and they call you crazy for being opposed to it.

    video games are laced with dark spiritual stuff too and then we move to ojewgi boards
    ( don’t know how top spell the word ), AND ON AND ON TO MORE “FUN” STUFF OR MORE…. VAMPIRE MOVIES ETC. this is intentional to predispose our children and bring them down. at 7 its harry potter ; at 17 its sex drugs and rock and roll. listen to the words of teen songs. it started with the fantasy of things like this….. avoid at all cost, both naturally and spiritually. a cute demon is still a demon !

  • withhope

    Thank you, Father. I think you’ve exposed the complete inversion of good and evil in the potter books well; jkrowlings latest book does it again:

  • N

    Also instead of writing about what not to do, why don’t we direct children and young adults to what to do instead? I do a lot of community service work and work with my local youth group. I have written the script for the Living Stations of the Cross, which was approved by several priests. I go to mass, I go to our 24 Hour Perpetual Adoration Chapel, and I work for the Lord during mass such as devoting time to choir, Eucharistic Ministering, Greeting (we hand out bulletins before mass and help the elderly and give a smile), and even lectoring, and I came up with an idea to create a box where people can ask questions about their faith, the church, etc. Even now I am putting effort into a Christmas program for our annual tree lighting, as well as the Christmas program for Christmas Eve. Encourage children and young adults to be active in their church, start or help a youth group, and discuss the gospel with them. Encourage them to understand the difference between right and wrong.

  • N

    It is most important to realize the difference between fact and fiction. Many books have been written, plays created, and movies directed that do not have the whole truth. Some would argue that although Mel Gibson worked hard on The Passion of the Christ which he took scenes from a book written by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerichm(soon to be a saint) that the movie was horrible, disgusting, and false. Not every scene, not every word is copied down, but they did their best to show us Jesus’ pain. I read a post where someone said their uneducated daughter took a stick and crushed bugs pretending to use magic, but can’t that happen with Disney shows? Do children see movies like The Ten Commandments and try to part a body of water? When children are raised to understand and differentiate between what is false and true, there is no problem. Sadly, you see it every day reenacted on the news. Children that play violent video games use violence in real life. That, however, is their inability to seperate the real world from a video game. And, yes, again, it may depict sorcery, but we, as adults, know better than to use sorcery and to use witchcraft and wizardry. Realize that although a possible “cult” book, it is just that, and perhaps a movie. I don’t know many books on the shelves these days that actually depict the truth except the Bible.

  • EK

    Dear Rose, you’ve made me understand that Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were probably having bad days when they decided to exterminate so many human lives. Bless their hearts! They weren’t totally evil. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I just wanted to point out that if you believe in Jesus you need to consider that there is a battle between absolute good and absolute evil. Ultimately at some point you will have to take a stand. As has been mentioned, the evil one subtly erodes our defenses. Little by little you are weakened into accepting that everything is relative. Regardless of the medium, the intent of moral persuasive communication is to encourage to either obey Christ and His Church or to rebel. God bless you!

  • Stef

    I did not realize I was in a cult. I won’t go into detail, but I started reading the books when I was 19. I’m 32 now, I’ve watched the movies hundreds of times… They encouraged my laziness and helped me develop my faithless life. I was born Catholic… God has I believe, with great patience brought me to today… I’m going out to but white paint to ruin my signed copies and all other anti catholic books which I thought were fun and carefree… Way to add to the confusion. YEP, you’re right Harry is an ANTI-Christ figure… He lies, steals, attacks his enemies with curses that slice… These are all things Christ would never do. And the bold on his forehead looks like have a swastika.

    I can also say I used to be gay… I lived a miserable existence… I’m not blaming it all on Harry Potter books, but they did not help… But they added more time waste… Yep, these books are a very sneaky mind rape.

  • […] Gares over at the Courageous Priest for this one. He previously posted another excellent piece from Father Jim Costigan which is well worth reading.— 6 —Speaking of morality and ends justified by the means, […]

  • Nancy Curtis

    I think a child shall lead the way. I believe our 14 year old Rose has hit the nail right on the head. I totally agree with her and I think that there are TOO many very intelligent people who are just working too hard to analyze a work of fiction. I have read all of the Harry Potter books and seen all of the movies. I have a hard time with those who give reviews of books or films when they have not seen them. I know quite a large number of young people who have read the Harry Potter books including several of my daughters…none of them have tried to cast a spell or believed that magic, good or evil, was real. I read The Hobbit and Trilogy back in the 1970’s and heard no outcry from the Church on it. What I see in Harry Potter is a work of fiction where good triumphs over evil and never gives up, where loyalty is an important trait and family is treasured. I think it is pointless to disect a work of fiction to death….read it and enjoy it for what it is just like any other work of fiction. Just like statistics being used to prove or disprove anything you want, if you look hard enough at something you might well see what is not there. Did you watch Disney’s Snow White as a child and believe that the kiss of your true love would bring you back from death? Or did it make you believe a mirror could talk and tell you who was the most beautiful in the land? Did you see Cinderella and believe that there was such a thing as a fairy godmother and that she could turn a pumpkin into a magical coach and mice into horses or magically dress a mistreated, scullery maid/step-daughter in a princesses’ gown and give her a magical GLASS slipper that never breaks? Or did seeing Bambi make you think that baby deer, little rabbits and skunks can speak? Or maybe Alice in Wonderland made you believe that biting off different sides of a mushroom would make you grow or shrink? I loved all of those movies and stories as a child and even at a very young age understood that they were NOT REAL but just fun stories to be enjoyed. Same thing with the Harry Potter series. I read Black Beauty in 2nd grade and loved the horses and the story but I understood even at 7 years of age that horses can’t talk nor write stories. I think you need to give some credit to children and realize that even children, by the time they are old enough to go to the movies, understand that Harry Potter is NOT real but rather a story to be enjoyed. I also think that there are a lot of people who are jealous of J.K. Rowling’s very vivid immagination and the wealth it has brought her. There sure seems to be a lot of people trying to copy her and make their own buck off of similar stories now. I just think that there better things to try to accomplish in this world than to spend so much time worrying about and disecting a set of young people’s books? Take a lesson from Rose…she seems to be a pretty smart 14 year old and totally got the point of the books. You never know.

  • rose

    I read many if the HP books and have seen a few of the movies. I am fourteen, the age that many kids are when they read/watch HP. I just wanted to throw out there that from these stories, I did not learn that all authority is to be ignored if needed, if that sorcery is okay to do, or that killing people for the “common good” is okay. I did learn that not every one is perfect. I learned that the vast majority of people are not totally bad or totally good, like snape for instance. Before reading HP, I tended to put people into a box: the bully at school was pure evil, the mean teacher was pure evil, the man who yelled at my father was pure evil. But now I am more willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, to forgive others, and to be the light of Christ to them because nobody who God has made is pure evil. Maybe the bully spent every afternoon caring for his sick mother; my “mean” teacher showed great concern for my father when he got cancer; the man who yelled at my dad may have just lost his job or something. You never know.

  • Steven Young

    After reading a few more, i feel a need to explain something further, as some feel the need to defend HP by using LOTR as a defense.
    Gandalf was not a human. He was a Maiar. In Tolkien’s book The Similarian, he makes an parable to Genesis. The Maiar were akin to the angels. So when one commentator said that Gandalf was equal and opposite to a Balrog, which was a demon, that is exactly right. But in only reading the Trilogy, we are lead to think that Gandalf is a wizard-human, and can safely use magic opposite to the Balrog or to Sauron. Sauron was also a Maiar, as the Balrog and Saruman were fallen Maiar who fell following Melkor, who is the parallel of satan.
    The Maiar use their powers with the permission of Iluvatar (parallel to God)as the angels use their powers with the permission of God, for the advantage and glory of Him they serve. Likewise the demons/balrogs use their powers as they will for their own advantage, or that of a master.

    So the point is, you can’t be trying to compare one literature to another and say there is no difference in how the characters act if you don’t first understand what the characters represent. In the Bible we do not see stories of good people using magic to help others. We see bad people using magic for their own self-serving purpose. We see demons using it to hurt people.

    If you say this is fictional, and you don’t see harm in it, that is fine, but I would suggest you are not a true Christian who believes in all that the Bible teaches about evil and good and how it is to be treated. I’m sorry, but being Christian in name because that is how you were raised is not good enough. God may not reward you because you followed a tradition or a habit that was ingrained in you. Christianity is a relationship, as much as the kind of relationship you would hope to have with your children where they love and follow you and trusted you in all that you say because you are their parent, and you know better then them. TRUST in your parent God, listen to HIM, and see yourself, not as His friend, or acquaintance, but as HIS child! Trust that you do not know better than Him. Trust that there are dangers out there that can hurt you, like your child has to trust you that the street is dangerous even though they cant see it.

  • Steven Young

    I have only read a few of the comments left, i wanted to address one of the first left by Mary.
    We can’t be confused by something labeled as “fictional’ writing and think that it’s not real. If we are looking at this from a Christian stance, then satan is real, and the powers he was given by God, and offers as a trap to others is also real. Magic, in this sense is real. I have known many friends to dabble in Ouija boards and wiccan things. There is real power that is attained from demons, and that power is a lure, a lure to hell. Why else would a demon offer it to us? If we, as Christians believe that demons are evil, then their intent is evil. They want to drag us down into hell to make us suffer because they hate us, and they suffer in hell as well.

    As for “The Lord of the Rings” if you do as much reading on the Tolkien stories as you do in HP stories, you would find that elves are not humans, and neither was Gandalf. What Tolkien shows in his stories is that whenever a human dabbles in magic, something goes wrong, or there is some bad consequence.

    I think what the danger is for our children is that there are no books that teach you how to become an Valar or Maiar of the Tolkien stories, or an elf, or a hobbit. Nor are there any books that teach you how to become a Jedi. But there are books that teach you how to become a witch or a sorcerer. There are books that teach you how to use magic. And if you do enough research, cross-referencing, you will see that they ALL tie into satanism. One of the early authors of such “white magic” books was Aleister Crowley, a high priest of the church of satan.

  • Trillian

    The real message of Harry Potter is that one should think for themselves and not trust that those in authority are telling the whole story. It says over and over again how the media and the ministry are keeping things back from people or just plain making them up. Sounds like that would be the real reason you would prefer children not read these books, after all if they start questioning authority and thinking for themselves they might notice all sorts of inconsistancies that make catholic and christian parents and clergy uncomfortable.

  • Teresa

    Disagree wholeheartedly. I see so much Christian message in these books and feel strongly that they are friend not foe. Jesus himself had the same problem in his lifetime. The clergy who should have been promoting him were trying to kill him. That will never change, I guess.

  • IrishMomof9

    Thank you, Father, for making clear to the public that has been taken in by this series of books just why it is NOT acceptable to Catholics. Unfortunately, my children think the HP books are “wonderful”, and our grandchildren are being schooled in them. My daughter (in her 40’s) couldn’t wait, recently, to see the latest film. We have neither read the books nor seen the movies, as we won’t support this type of brainwashing of the younger generations, so had little to go on, but you have made our thoughts clear. God bless you!

  • Chester Mealer

    tl;dr version: Only valid argument is that they get away with breaking the rules all over the place.

    I’ve read all 7 books and loads of other fiction. I’ll grant you the Harry Potter books show you can lie and steal and cheat and get away with it as long as you have the right allies, or are “the boy who lived”. And even this has to do with the fact that “Good overcomes Evil solely by following the rules and being excessively polite” has never been a particularly engaging story. Neither is a story where the characters are too perfect to grow.

    The complaint that the heroes are sorcerers is a little harder for me to find valid. Should sci-fi heroes be disparaged because they solve their problems with technology we don’t have access too. Like all fantasy narratives, the book asks the reader to concede that it occurs not in the real world, but in a world much like our own with the exception of, in this case, that magic isn’t necessarily evil. Tolkien asked us to believe in a world where rings can make you invisible and sorcerers can be powerful and GOOD allies. For your complaint to be valid you must also stand against Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia, both of which feature magical allies. Indeed, Gandalf is a powerful magic user who is comparable to the balrog which is clearly a demon.

    It is a clear trope, almost a cliche, of fantasy to have things which have properties of humans, or vice versa. To say that the mandrake root scene equals abortion you must also claim the fact that the Ent-wives, from Lord of the Rings, being gone equals divorce. And it is not described “as” a baby, rather it’s said it resembles nothing so much as it does a baby. Should we not chop down trees that look like they have human faces in them either?

    Most of your arguments could be used equally well against other fantasy literature which is certainly recognized as Christian friendly if not allegorical. And again, it’s a book. These aren’t people you know or could ever meet. It’s. not. real. and that may be the most important thing for parents to make sure their kids know.

  • Joe Doctor

    Oh my goodness. These are stories, fiction, just like Snow White and Pinocchio. Do you similarly condemn the Brothers Grimm? This is the point where my 5-year-old son distinguishes real life from fiction by asking “Daddy, they aren’t in our world, are they?” That is where proper parenting comes in. Anyone old enough to read the stories understands that this is all they are. Anyone, adult or child, whose faith is shaken or compromised in any way by these stories, has more problems than HP withdrawl will address.

    Many approve harsh treatment of prisoners, even capital punishment, stating that the ends justify the means. It is also common for fanatics to troll their Scripture of choice for justification to do evil in His name. Anyone can look at anything and find fault. This essay is a good example. The Taliban prohibited all music in Afghanistan. Do not force us into such an austere world. Let there be LIGHT.

  • Monica

    I can’t believe the hostility this debate has sparked. You’d think Father Jim had criticized the person, rather than a storybook! I have read ALL the Harry Potter books over 12 times and absolutely love them. However, after reading this, my children will not be allowed to read them or see the movies. I don’t agree with all the arguments, such as, linking Harry Potter to satanism on the internet. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” spawned dungeons and dragons, but we don’t condemn Tolkien because of it. I do see the dangers of Harry Potter on an impressionable,unformed mind, but as an educated adult who knows her faith, it doesn’t seem to affect me adversely. I always say a prayer to the Holy Spirit before reading anything as well as my daily Rosary. I will continue to trust in Our Lady to protect me from any possible moral dangers. God Bless you for your good work and caring!

  • Terri

    Dear Father,
    Thank you for this article! I agree whole-heartedly! Being led to this website was a wonderful blessing and I pray many, many more are led here to join you in your mission for Truth!
    God bless you for your truthfulness, courage and Love!!!

  • Gina

    Well done! I have not read the books, but I have always wondered why friends, collegues, and children found them so addictive. They are hooked on HP. While I had heard both sides, I didn’t feel “qualified” to judge something I had not read or seen myself (nor did I have the urge to read or see). Now I have a an answer for myself and for those around me. Thank you for sharing and for making it easier to understand and explain.

  • Debbie in TN

    Dear Fr. Don,
    You are so right about the dangers being so insidious. This kind of reading makes children think that it is ok to experiment with darkness. Thank you for your courageous stand.

    Debbie in TN

  • Grace in VA

    Hi Father!

    Thank you so very very much for writing this article. It is critical, without seeming overly harsh.

    I am a seventeen year-old, and not a fan of Harry Potter. However, some of my best friends are, and so I sent them this article, thinking it would explain some of my reservations about the series.

    What I was not expecting was the almost instantaneous and fierce attack on the article from my friends! “It is just fiction!” they cry, “Leave it alone!” And what followed was a nearly week-long debate on the books, with the pro-Potter side throwing every single argument they could against the article. But why this fervent defense if indeed it is just fiction? And why so strongly defend it, not allowing even a whisper of dissent against it? To me, this seems to bespeak a much deeper and more sinister appeal that these books have, and therein lies the danger.

    Again, thank you so very much for writing this article, and God bless you!

    ~Grace in VA

  • Tom

    Dear Father,

    I have not read the many comments written above, so perhaps, I will be repeating what others have said. You mentioned that there is ‘poor’ understanding of the moral law amongst Catholics (especially during the last 40 years and in particular in evaluating re: Harry Potter). I second your opinion. My personal thought is that many of us simply do not know our Faith (as we should). Since I have lived through this 40 year period and have experienced both sinful and grace filled moments in my life, I now know that I am a worthless nothing before the power of God, I can easily say that I can do nothing of myself. If that is so, then I must be filled by Our Lord’s grace in order to move forward in doing His Will. Once emptied, the cup can be filled. If our children are like empty cups do we want to fill them with lies or anything that detracts from His Majesty? How will they learn to hear, see and know Him unless their young minds are filled with His stories and teachings? When we begin to know the Truth in studying the Catechism; Scripture; the saints;the Fathers of the Church etc, our arsenal of weapons against the ‘evil one’ becomes stronger. I pray that our Church receives more workers for the vineyard like yourself and helps our priests that may be struggling themselves with finding Our Master. Father! I, a lay person of no consequence, need your vocation! I also pray for priestly and religious vocations so God will aide us in providing more teachers and shepherds to warn us of danger to ourselves and our children.

    Yours in Christ Jesus
    Lay Missionary of Mercy

    May God Bless and Keep us in His Loving Arms

  • Thank you Fr. Donald for telling it like it is..I do wish more priests were as honest as you. You are truly a shephard of souls. May God keep you always.

  • Laurelee Beduhn

    Dear Father and all who responded,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I really enjoyed thinking about what has been said. I initially read the first book, because of comments being made on the christian radio station regarding the dangers of harry potter. There are protestants out there who do not let their children see the Wizard of Oz, because of the witches (one good, one evil). This is not the teaching of the Catholic church. We are not to practice magic etc, but I am allowed to read anything. I just finished the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis, it did not make me want to become a demon.
    Really, just take your kids to Mass, have thoughtful conversations re the homily and Bible, and let Your kids read what You feel comfortable with.
    Father, I think your article was thoughtful and may have cleared up some questions for some parents, but I think you should focus on issues directly affecting the church ie., yesterday WGN Chicago news at noon featured a priest who wants women ordained, there are nuns going around saying women have a right to an abortion, and I could go on and I am sure you know what I mean. Lets get the truth out there about the basics of what the church teaches, so people can worry about real people teaching untruths, not some fictional book.

  • Carole Gray

    I agree whole-heartedly with Fr. Calloway. I have not as yet seen the other videos. I do have a small complaint, but I don’t know that there is anything that can be done about it. The videos are so choppy, as a couple words will be spoken and then it’s cut off while the next couple words are buffered in. If there is anything that can fix that problem, it would certainly be much easier to watch! Regarding Harry Potter, I have tried to explain this to my daughter because she was getting all the books for my grandson. Needless to say, my warnings were not well received and he has read all of them. I do appreciate your courage in coming out on this topic. I just wish it had happened years earlier.

  • Jeremy

    OK. All this Harry Potter talk, listen to yourselfs. Complain Complain Complain. I think you are looking into this too much, go worry about something else. You can talk all you want and kids and adults will still go and see these movies, just because you say “their giving out the wrong message”.
    P.S. The books are better than the movies.

  • […] is a follow-up to How Harry Potter Corrupts Our Children? April 18th, 2011 | Category: Fr. Donald Calloway | Authored or Posted by Jeff Gares | | Leave […]

  • So I’d like to address one criticism of the books, repeated often by fans of Lewis and Tolkien, that runs, basically, “In Tolkien and Lewis, humans and hobbits

  • Ally

    That’s rather a harsh critique. It is also full of sweeping generalisations. Muggles aren’t depicted well? Nor are wizards/witches. I applaud the books for showing a wide range of flawed characters. Even the ‘good guys’ have problems and nobody is presented as perfect. There aren’t a large amount of positive ‘muggle’ role models but most of the story is set in the wizarding world so why would there be? The muggle prime minister is presented as timid and ineffectual? The minister for magic is presented as just as inept if not worse. I could go on for a while, addressing each point that I disagree with but the following statement is one I must address:
    How about : Harry sites link to Satanism sites on the Net? Is that scary enough?
    Surely you can not blame the books themselves for this. Some people are idiots, there is no evidence whatsoever in any of the books that Satanism is practised, even by the evil wizards.
    There are no perfectly innocent books and you’re condemning the main characters in a children’s book for being children (they start out aged 11) and testing boundaries in a world they’re new to.
    Tell you what; i’ll stop reading completely. Including the Bible. I just can’t read a book where there are graphic scenes of murder depicted and the ultimate good commits genocide (Noah’s Ark anybody?) That doesn’t happen in Harry Potter and out of the two books, which one mentions Satan more? Oh, and which book is encouraged to be taken seriously?

  • Bravo, Father. That was good. A distinction to the problem of sorcery you leave out is that the setting is contemporary Earth. In other settings you can excuse the use of ‘magic’ as another science in a world with different rules. However since it is set in our world and our time, the moral laws that bind us must be answered for by the characters.

    The line between a technologist and a magician is much finer than most people suspect. The magic is really just a means. You could easily write a SciFi novel where many of the same effects are accomplished with “SCIENCE!”. The actions of the characters is the real issue at hand. Father makes a very good case for why they aren’t good role models.

    And now a few replies since I cannot help my self.

    @Joan: Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy. Their disobedience and rash behavior lead to their double suicide, so the story is telling you not to be like them.

    @Sandra: Wiccan is a joke, by and large, but a dangerous one. It is not only a sin when you do magic correctly, but anytime you try to do magic with earnest. So kids running around with sticks, shouting Latin-gibberish, like cops and robbers are not really doing anything wrong. However, one who tries to do magic, or worse picks up a ‘spell book’ from B&N, is breaking the first commandment. Father’s point about muggles can be shown by this: “Name all the heroic muggles”. Tolkien’s take on magic is totally different and cannot be used as a comparison.

  • Joan

    So, forget magic, do you oppose all dark themed stories? You’d never, then, recommend reading a book where a 13 year old girl conspires with a priest to kill herself, right? All done behind the backs of her parents? And involves drugs, and lots of blood, stabbing and eventually, a self-inflicted dagger in her chest? And throw in a smattering of sex and penis jokes, as well?

    Then you’ve just denied the right to read Shakespeare; that’s all in Romeo and Juliet.

  • Sandra Miesel

    In Tolkien, hobbits and humans can lawfully use magical objects made by elves. Aragorn, although human, has unique powers due to very remote elven ancestry. These include the privilege of willing his own death when he chooses. (Yes, Dumbledore’s death is morally problematic but he wasn’t exactly alive at that point to begin with.)

    Rowling’s humans with magic powers are mutants. Their magic is as natural to them as elvish powers are to Tolkien’s elves and exist independent of training. Magic-capable children can inherit from one magical parent (Voldemort)or result from spontaneous mutation (Hermione, Harry’s mother) or fail to inherit their parents’ powers (squibs). Voldemort and other evil characters hate muggles and lord it over other magic races. One of the major themes of HP is combating this nazi-like attitude. Despite cruel treatment by his muggle relatives, Harry protects them. Complaining that HP teaches children to hate muggles because the villains do so is like complaining about racism in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD because the villain is a racist.

    I’m still waiting for someone to spot a specific Wiccan element in HP. Where’s the Triple Goddess or the Horned God? Casting the circle? Calling the quarters? The books are structured around the processes of alchemy and packed with Christian symbols. The strictures of the Catechism are about our world, not fiction. Otherwise, we would be forbidden to enjoy any artform depicting magic.

  • Sheila

    Thank you, Fr. Jim!
    Your explanation of how HP has enabled the Culture of Death is enough for this Catholic.
    Sadly, many are not so clear and have become unwitting accomplices. What to think about HP, or what is healthy to expose our children to, has become a matter of opinion rather than of faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes our current culture’s obsession with “magic” as a violation of the 1st Commandment:

    2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

    Perhaps, we Catholics need to re-evaluate our literary and silverscreen heros?

  • I’ve never read Harry Potter and I have not read the Narnia stories, but I have read Lord of the Rings many times over my life (I lost count after the 35th reading).

    The good guys in Tolkien do not practice magic. What looks like magic to mortal men is really the native abilities of other races. Elves, for instance, do not die; and those who have lived in the Blessed Realm (where the angelic beings dwell who are the guardians of the world under the One God) have great power over evil. Gandalf was not a sorcerer. He was an incarnated angelic being who was sent to Middle Earth for the purpose of uniting Elves and Men against the Dark Lord (cf. Unfinished Tales). He and the other wizards were expressly forbidden to persuade the inhabitants of Middle Earth by impressing or terrorizing them with their angelic powers. The very name “wizard” as applied to Gandalf and the other wizards was given to them by Men who misunderstood their nature and purpose. Most of all, the message about magic in Tolkien is that it is deadly and dangerous for mortals to use, and will eventually corrupt them. The use of the One Ring against Sauron could have resulted in his certain defeat, but the result would only be the replacement of one Dark Lord with another. That the end does not justify the means is a major theme in Tolkien. Hope that helps for those looking for a distinction between Tolkien and Harry Potter.

    By the way, Tolkien was a devout Catholic.

  • JC

    This is one of the best and least fanatical critiques I’ve read of _Harry Potter_, and my wife, who loves the books (as an adult reader), would agree with many of those (except for the Mandrake thing).

    *However*, there are also some powerful pro-life themes in the books, particularly in the last one, and if you’re going to talk about these details, you need to mention things like in Chapter 11 of _Deathly Hallows_, where Harry refers to an unborn baby as a “kid.”

    In an interview with MTV a few years ago, Rowling said she has always been a Christian, and that the books are intended as allegories (some Catholic commentators have made the allegorical argument by looking at characters’ names, etc.).

    Even the “outing” of Dumbledore was a subtly Christian thing: the “gay community” was outraged by it, because the “homosexual relationship” in the books, which occurred early in Dumbledore’s life, was self-destructive and resulted in Dumbledore making a vow of celibacy.

  • Bob

    Muggles are non-magical people and are dull, pathetic, and despicable fools — paraphrase.

    The difference between Rowling on the one hand, and Lewis and Tolkien on the other — as someone more well-read than I pointed out — is that in Lewis and Tolkien human beings do not have magical powers; in Rowling they do. So in Rowling we have humans practicing sorcery. “…magic means sorcery – a grave evil, a violation of the First Commandment…”

    “The end justifies the means.” That in itself is totally anti-Christian; a Christian is not permitted to do evil, even if the effect will certainly be good.

    One of my neighbors is a Wiccan; their basic motto is basically “Do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.” It’s very easy to forget the second part, as did too many kids I knew on campus in the 1960s. I saw too many lives ruined by drugs and the occult 45 years ago to think of even picking up Rowling.

  • Sandra Miesel

    I’ve been waiting for someone to reply to Laura on the mandrake issue but none has. The mandrakes as “living human babies” is a Michael O’Brienism that has been refuted for at least a decade but seems immortal. Attentive readers will recall that Rowling’s mandrakes are plants and they are not turned into a potion until sexually mature. Rowling took the old lore about mandrakes and womandrakes one step farther by imagining babydrakes. They are still plants, not humans.

    The baby seen at King’s Cross (during a spiritual rather than a physical experience) is not a real human infant either but a representation of what’s left of Voldemort’s soul. I’m surprised that no anti-Potter Catholic has raised an objection about the indivisibility of the soul, yet I’ve never seen one. Without that counterfactual assumption, Rowling’s story wouldn’t work. But assumptions contrary to fact are the basis of fantasy fiction.

    I challenge all readers to point even a single spell word + gesture in HP “exactly like those of real witches.” Just one…

  • 8underourlady

    As far as the comparisons with Tolkien and Lewis go, both T & L consciously wrote Christian allegory. Rowling had no such intent. The “magic” used by good characters in Tolkein and Lewis were supernatural powers such as those possessed by the angels andd the saints that were unsolicited gifts or part of their inherent nature. Characters that used occult powers such as “the ring of power” in Tolkein and the magic rings in “The Magician’s Nephew” used them for selfish manipulative purposes that always resulted in somehow enslaving those who sought their power. I hope tthat this distinction helps.

  • The HP books consistently and insidiously promote a disregard for authority, which, especially in today’s culture, is not helpful to our kids. –California Girl

    Spot-on! Bravo! Applause!

    And thank you once again, “Courageous Priest,” for publishing Fr. Jim Costigan’s brilliant piece on Potter. Maybe someday he can tour with Michael D. O’Brien regarding this important subject matter.

  • California Girl

    I think that there is a difference between “fantasy magic” and real-world sorcery (which I do believe exists). And I think that children who are old enough can tell the difference. Children who are not old enough should not read the books.

    What I have a really big problem with in the series is the attitude toward authority that Father pointed out: “Break the rules and win; disobey and be rewarded.” Not only does breaking the rules lead to success (for instance, the various times they sneak into the Forbidden Forest), but in many cases success would not have been possible if they had not broken the rules.

    Contrast this with traditional fairy tales, where the youngest son or the good sister scrupulously obeys instructions given them, no matter how silly or unreasonable they seem. That person is rewarded–with riches, or marriage, or gaining the object of a quest. The person who hears the instructions and ignores them (the older brothers, the spoiled sister) ends up in trouble–poor, or trapped, or dead.

    The HP books consistently and insidiously promote a disregard for authority, which, especially in today’s culture, is not helpful to our kids.

  • Marc

    I find it particularly intellectually awesome when a member of an actual thriving cult, Catholicism, takes a fictional fantasy cult to task for its ill effects on their actual cult. Please…

  • Thank you for keeping the Harry Potter discussion alive by publishing this. I have read all of them..There’s just no way around the spiritual darkness that that progresses with each book. Even if the Bible were’t clear on the dangers, which of course it is, after reading the series,I’d rather err on the side of making sure my children are not exposed to such ‘fun, hip and exciting’ magical seduction.

  • We lost over 60 subscribers with this one post.

    LOL! Thank you, courageous “Courageous Priest” site owners for publishing Father Jim Costigan’s post. (Great article!)

    FYI, Michael D. O’Brien (author of Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture) will be on EWTN next week discussing Harry Potter, etc. Info is here:

    Michael D. O’Brien on EWTN

  • Mary

    @ Ruben: Forgive me, you are correct about the Bible, of course. However, Harry and his friends did not make deals with the devil in order to obtain their magical powers; they were born with them.
    I do wish someone would expand on the Lewis, Tolkien, etc issues and why it is okay to read some books where magic is used but not others (such as HP). Why is it okay to esteem Gandalf for using his magic to help save the day but not Harry? The magician crafts rings in Lewis’ series and that, too, is okay? Why should children be allowed to read CS Lewis – perhaps they, too, will try to craft rings in which they may be transported to anther world!

  • Some young girls in Italy decided to see if the spells in HP worked so they tried them and burned the house down.

    Here is a good sermon on HP and the other things affecting our children today. Well worth the 30 mins!

    God love you

  • Angelica

    In any case, thank you Father for this Post, because sometimes it is good to have a discussion between grown ups about things that can be beneficial for children, working as a team. My recommendation for parents is, again, you don’t need the HP books or movies (only if they have to read it because it is mandatory from school, and even there, if you can “fight” don’t hesitate to do it). I have a lot of stories where God has allowed me to be a witness of many bad things that have started as something “innocent”, “harmless”, “just a game” etc.; where there’s confussion, don’t go there. May God bless you all

  • Angelica

    My husband and I tried to watch the movies, and to tell you the truth, it is one of the most boring things I have seen, I even fall asleep at some points. What I “see” now, is that they are kind of trying to “impose” this books to the children, as if it is something “cool” to read; in my opinion, there are lots and lots of other options, I don’t even consider to buy the HP books for my children; one time we went together to a store, and they had them on sale; my oldest child asked me about them, I just told him “pick something else”, and it was not a “big deal” for him; it’s just that they don’t need to read these things. I know, we live in a society where “anyway they will hear about these things”, but in that case, I don’t want anyone else’s ideas be the first “talking” in their minds, I want for them to be their parent’s influence first. Some people think they “need” these books, for they see it as an opportunity to “open these topics for discussion with their children”; of course not, you don’t need these books or these movies, you need God. I don’t want for my children to have a “start point” with a story that is not clear in itself what is good or what is evil. If you want to be good, be good, you don’t need spells; I don’t even like discussions about these books or movies, because I think we give them way too much credit.

  • Kristin

    Mr. Quinn – I’m sorry for the 60 losses, however there is at least one gain, myself. I am very happy to have come across this site and always welcome the truth whether it requires humility on my part or not. Fr. Costigan is solid and probably has more life experience than most. People should pay attention to him. Thank you!

  • Jamie

    It is interesting to me how people will defend their vices and call names, and question a priest’s credibility over a fiction book. If Father is right and we don’t allow our children to read the book, we have kept our children from danger. If he was wrong and we kept our children from reading the book, have our children actually lost something benificial to their well being? Of course not. Our children becoming the people God intended them to be does not have ANYTHING to do with HP. There is a wealth of great Catholic Fiction books for children that will enhance who they are and who they become. Check out Sophia Press, Ignatius Press, TAN books and so on and so on. As I believe Padre Pio stated the devil is like a leashed dog. The only way he can harm us is if we go into his domain. So why should we stand as close as we can get to the chained dog , just to see if he can reach us. Walk away people there is no redeeming factor in HP.

  • Dear Father Jim,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. Yes you are right about this poison the children are swallowing. Since the release of “Harry Potter” satan’s media has increased so that at this present time it seems that the children of God are under attack 24/7. It also seems that many people have fallen into a silent trance while the ravenous wolves tear their families apart. May our Heavenly Mother take us all under her Mantle and within Her Immaculate Heart. May Our Heavenly Mother help us all remain in the true Faith of Jesus Christ.

    May the Blessing of Jesus Christ precede you, and all the other Priests, be with all of you now at this moment, and follow each one of you in all you do on behalf of Our Fathers Kingdom. “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will Be Done …”

    Thank you.

    Fatima Prayers Ministry at

  • Laura

    Sorry, Father. You lost your credibility with me over the mandrake scene. What Rowling presents, I recognized from folklore I was reading back in the early- to mid-1960s. If you got that wrong, what else have you gotten wrong?

    And should I also avoid the Latin Mass like the plague, since Rowling used Latin and latinate words for the “spells”?

    I expect better from someone with a seminary background.

  • I saw no harm to the Harry Potter movies or books when they first came out. I even watched the movies. But since I’ve come in full communion with the Church and do a lot of spiritual reading, it’s like my eyes are really opened and I see the Truth. I will recommend to my children not to let my grandchildren read or see these movies. I think it may be a way of letting Satan in for the weak and those with no spiritual foundation. Our culture has a way of sucking kids into the occult. My grandson had a T-shirt from The Children’s Place that I had a cute little devil and it said Mischief. I didn’t think it was cute but my son didn’t see any harm in it. I talked him into letting me having it and paid him for it. It’s the trash right now.

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  • 8underourlady


    I think that we have lost our appreciation of those words we pray in the Our Father, “lead us not into temptation.” I agree wholeheartedly with your article. I am among the very few parents at our Catholic school who does not allow her children to read these books. I feel that in many ways, our family has been blessed because of it. I will print your article because you have direct knowledge of the content of the books which is valuable in arguing with those who promote the books. Knowing that sorcery is a mortal sin, I would ask parents who allow their children to read these books if they would also allow their young children read fiction with numerous detailed adulterous sexual encounters. You know it is “fantasy” after all.

  • Ruben A

    Thank you! Very well laid out.

    @Mary, the bible mentions and prohibits sorcery. Sorcery is not fiction, otherwise the bible is fiction if one agrees with your premise.

    I also read a lot of justification from several comments for not parting with Harry Potter. Kinda reminds me of Adam making excuses for himself. I do the same thing when someone challenges something I cherish, like, etc. I also have friends/family that challenge me to grow out of these things. The truth frees, but it also hurts. You may not have known before, but now the light has been shined, there’s no middle ground for you after reading this post.

  • andres

    the fact you believe in something with no scientific proof whatsoever shows how ignorant people like you are. the bible is full of terrible things and people like you take it literally. is it not written that in the story of sodom and gomorrah, Lot offered his two daughters to be raped by the masses to protect the angels who visited him. you think things like this are moral, but harry potters evil? get a clue. it’s a story written to entertain, it’s not supposed to have any religious or anti-religious opinion. it’s pure fiction. and children brought up smart enough to realise this will not fall for the “sins” you have pointed out in these books. religion is a blindfold on the youth of today. forced on them by birth.


    Edited for charity.

  • Harry J Tucci Jr

    I have to admit I have never seen or read any Harry Potter stuff. However, if even just 1/10th of your assertions are true than I have would have a terrible time saying the stories are anything but pure evil. Jesus taught us the Devil frequently comes in sheep’s clothing. It would appear that Satan has found yet another insidious way to influence our youth through a seemingly innocuous film star. Thanks for the eye opener Father!!!!!!!

  • David

    Hmmmm.. Well I am a huge potter fan. I cant tell you how weird it is to see this article. I mean obviously it is not a good thing to lead Children into the occult. However, if someone is old enough to distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality then I don’t see the problem. In fact the books are good for bringing up discussions. I mean I have read the books multiple times and I really don’t think my faith has been affected. I love and study theology. I am a sinner and I do struggle like we all do however, I know my faith and practice it frequently. I never, got confused as a kid that the Harry Potter stuff was some how real. I guess, I am an exception to the rule, because I never got confused in HP.

  • Kathy

    Never let my kids read any Harry Potter. Actually,
    my youngest son was given the first Harry Potter as a birthday present from a neighbor boy. After the guests went home, I threw the book in the garbage….didn’t want it in the house.
    Sounds extreme perhaps, but there was just something about it, just something in my gut, even though I hadn’t read the thing,
    that told me this was not something I wanted to allow him or his sister or brother to read. They still tell people, now that they’re grown, that they are “not allowed” to read Harry Potter. They laugh about it now, but frankly, it’s no laughing matter. And they never did read any Harry Potter.

  • April

    I thank you for writing this post. This is the first essay I have read advising against Harry Potter that was clearly by someone who had actually read the books. Thank you for presenting the issues with much thought and consideration.

    I do have some lingering questions and I hope this doesn’t come across as argumentative, because I really want to do what is best for my children.. But just to share my experience with you. I read the first book of Harry Potter when I was 21. Now I love books and movies that I can analyze in depth. I absolutely loved the Harry Potter book for all the positive attributes you mentioned. More than that, sometimes it can be very easy, amidst the mundane circumstances of everyday life, to forget that we really are in a spiritual battle. Obviously we aren’t battling trolls and such as in Harry Potter, but we are really and truly battling demons. The spiritual realm is real and I loved that Harry Potter reminded me of that reality and inspired me to do the right thing no matter what.

    For these reasons I was looking forward to sharing the books with my own children when they got older. As far as the sorcery, I was planning on making the distinction of the magic and witches and such found in works of fantasy, which is based in imagination, and the real magic and real witches that exist, whose magic is quite different than that found in books, and which is always gravely evil. Children of a certain age are capable of recognizing, for example, that Barney the dinosaur has very little in common with the real dinosaurs that existed millions of years ago. I can see the books could attract someone without a spiritual foundation and without a knowledge of the distinction between fictional magic and real magic, but if a child has a firm foundation, and recognizes the difference…then I don’t feel the books are dangerous. I guess I’m saying, I can see how for some they could be a danger, but I think we should stop short of outrightly condemning them for all people in all circumstances.

    As far as erotically suggestive themes and such, I can’t take my children to the grocery store or view a commercial without these images as well. This is, unfortunately the world we live in, and reading a book together such as Harry Potter seems to be a good opportunity to discuss these topics which are a part of life. We protect our children to a certain extent, but at a certain age, we must equip them to confront and handle the challenges of this secular culture, which cannot be done if we have forever shielded them from it.

    I would love to know what you think and I thank you in advance for your time.

  • Christina

    Great job Fr. Jim !
    It takes courage and fidelity to your vocation as a priest, to act to transform the world instead of to conform with the world.
    Too many people innocently fall victim to the trappings of the devil, and because of the times we are in, people need to be more wise and aware, and avoid ANYTHING that is harmful to the soul.
    Parents must protect the family.
    The Potter author has even used words from the actual book of witchcraft for her “victims” to hear and mimic.
    I’ve seen small children say “I’m going to put a spell on you”.
    Sadly, there are people/religious that don’t believe in real spells.
    Voodoo dolls are being sold at Barnes & Noble and used by people of all ages.
    I’ve seen teenagers remove their crucifixes around their necks, and replace their jewelry with occult symbols, and wear t-shirts with the pentagram on them.
    The advances of the evil one is remarkable.
    Now we have Wicca as a religion, practicing in the military, using the chapels, walking the school halls with our kids.
    So let’s stop supporting anything of the occult realm, and let’s support Jesus instead.
    The priests need to teach the truths of the how the devil is working in the world, at the pulpit, without fear, as the people are ignorant, and need assistance. There is no one to teach them.
    Parents may be intrigued for now and eat the popcorn with their kids while experiencing the occult of Potter, but they will be crying on their knees someday when their children reject God and enter into all sorts of New Age/Occult practices and satanism.
    Let’s stop the insanity.
    Thank you Fr. Jim !!!

  • I’ve read all of the books. And I agree whole-heartedly.

  • Laura

    Bravo Father! We have never allowed our children access to Harry Potter, no matter how many good Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, insisted it was perfectly safe. My husband loves to tell the story of a man trapped in a cabin with a huge, hungry bear lurking outside looking for an opportunity to devour him. “Would you open that door even a crack?” Not on your life. Why would anyone who is smart enough to not endanger their lives with that bear happily throw open the door to one who looks for an opportunity to devour our souls, and feed our children to him? We believe in striving for purity in our Faith no matter how out of step that makes us with family or acquaintences. Why is Harry Potter necessary? It is far safer and more productive to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord. There in lies true adventure, love, and joy. Why take a chance with other things. We must remember that Lucifer was the most beautiful of angels. How often he cloaks evil in beauty. We love courageous priests who are not afraid to speak the truth. God bless you! AMDG!

  • Mary

    Interesting commentary. However, the premise of Father Costigan’s argument against the series is that sorcery (a grave and intolerable evil) is at the source of the stories. That would make it FICTION, and wise parents teach their appropriately aged children that there is no such thing as magic. Equating magic with satanism is a total stretch and if a child or teenager explores satanism due to Harry Potter, there are other issues at play in that child’s life.
    Tolkien also places good against evil with plenty of magic involved – the elves were quite capable of supernatural abilities. Is not the “White Wizard” a here as well in Tolkien?
    As for the other parts – language, sexual innuendo, etc., I do believe the series did not need to include these. But they are not the basis of Father’s argument.

  • Anne

    My son has special gifts and sees some of the spiritual world. Our best friends read, watch and play with H.P. toys galore. They also go often to the H.P. castle at Universal. At their house he has seen a witch chase our youngest and a wizard and green demon face when something H.P. was burned in the fireplace. He is now seeing things on their children and we no longer allow our children around them as our younger ones were misbehaving terribly like something was getting on them. My youngest are behaving so much better now after deliverance and total separation from them. We have told them, H.P. or us. I dont’ think this even begins to address the door that we have seen opened by the parents of these innocent children. Thank you for opening the right door to this discussion.

  • Kelly

    Thank you for such a good review of the books. I have read several sources that recommend against reading these books but never one that explains WHY to someone who is not familiar with the stories & characters. This is exactly what my husband & I needed to aid our decision. And it gives some great discussion points for when you find yourself in a debate with others. THANK YOU!

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