In the Year of Our Lord 2019, schools are still freaking out about Harry Potter, and not because J.K. Rowling stans Johnny Depp.
The Nashville Tennessean reports that the St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville removed their Harry Potter collection from the library ahead of the new school year. The reason: a pastor at the school consulted with a bunch of exorcists, and it seems there’s some concern students might be able to commune with evil spirits if they start studying up on Hogwarts.
“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception,” the pastor, Rev. Dan Reehil, wrote in an email to parents. “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.”
To be clear, I spent a good portion of my (very lonely) childhood attempting to master Accio in hopes of summoning friends, or at least snacks, while patiently waiting for my Hogwarts letter. I was unsuccessful, and I remain unconvinced that a bunch of modern-day schoolchildren will be able to do better than me. But I guess the Rev. Reehil doesn’t see it that way.
“Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school,” Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, told the Nashville Tennessean. “He’s well within his authority to act in that manner.”
The Harry Potter series has been on plenty of banned book lists since it debuted in 1997, but that was over two decades ago, so it’s a little strange that it took this particular school this long to get around to checking with the exorcists. It also sounds like the schoolchildren won’t be entirely deprived of Harry and Friends, as Hammel made it clear that parents are totally free to let their offspring attempt to summon a Dementor or bake a chocolate frog or whatever, as long as they remember that they’re permitting Little Draco to do the work of the devil.
“We really 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,” Hammel said.
Well, OK then.