Last November I interviewed "Movie Mom" Nell Minow for our sister publication Christian Parenting Today. To her radio and Internet fans, Nell is an impassioned advocate for parents being vigilant in protecting their kids from inappropriate and harmful movies (moviemom.com). The magazine received many appreciative letters, but a handful sounded like this one, which I received today: "I went to her Web site and found this: listed among her 'All-Time Best Movies' was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! This is just a joke, right? If not, why do you call yourselves CHRISTians. You give us, who really want to follow Christ, a bad name. Refer to the following verses in the Holy Bible: Deut. 18:10-14; 2 Kings 17:17-18; 2 Chr 33:6; Gal 5:19-21. This is not the first time I found your magazine to be not only in bad taste, but down right stinks of Hell!"
Never mind that the Harry Potter movie was never mentioned in the article, and let us not dwell on the confusion of treating magic as a literary device (to which none of those Bible verses apply) with magic as an occult practice (to which the verses can apply)—the letter is a good example of how J.K. Rowling's fantasy books have touched a raw nerve among some evangelicals. And the vitriol is not limited to the fringe element: take the venerable Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide and head of the Christian Film & Television Commission, a diplomatic mission to make connections between Hollywood and the Christian community. Normally cautious in his criticisms of the film industry and careful about making overgeneralizations that he may have to take back when meeting with studio heads, Baehr has openly campaigned against the Harry Potter movie, calling it "soft porn" in how it seduces ...1