The St Edward Catholic School in the city of Nashville in Tennessee, United States, has removed the seven-book Harry Potter series from the library because of their content, the local newspaper Tennessean reported on August 31. The news has received a lot of international coverage since then.
The newspaper obtained an email that Reverend Dan Reehil, a pastor at the school, sent to parents. In the email, Reehil explained he had consulted several “exorcists” in the United States and Rome and it was recommended that the school remove the books.
“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception,” Reehil wrote. “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.”
Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic diocese of Nashville, told the newspaper that Reehil had sent the email, but added that the Catholic Church did not have an official position on the books. “Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school,” she added. “He is well within his authority to act in that manner.”
According to the paper, the books were on the shelves of the library till the end of the last term but the school removed them from a new library that had been opened. “I know that in the process they were going through and kind of weeding out some of the content in hopes of sprucing it up and improving the circulation,” Hammel said. She added that if parents found the stories “to be appropriate we would hope that they would just guide their sons and daughters to understand the content through the lens of our faith”.
“We really don’t get into censorship in such selections other than making sure that what we put in our school libraries are age-appropriate materials for our classrooms,” Hammel said.
The Harry Potter books have been the target of Christians since the first in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was published in 1997. Two years later, it was the most challenged book in the United States, and the entire series topped the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently challenged books between 2000 and 2009, reported The Guardian.