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(A Bit Less) Positive About Potter

How Focus on the Family, Prison Fellowship, and others have—and haven't—changed their views about the books over the years.

"Harry Potter books and films have been attacked in the past by evangelicals for allegedly glamorizing the occult," say the papers. But Christians "are now eschewing condemnation for praise, embracing Ms. Rowling's tales as powerful religious fables for our time."

It's a narrative as fictional as the Potter books themselves. In late 1999, I noted that, contrary to media reports, no major Christian leader had spoken against the Harry Potter series, and several had actually supported the books. Some readers were upset with my summary, but the most prominent critic they could come up with at that time was Texas pastor John Hagee. Four books and five films later, it's time for an update to that piece.

One of the most prominent evangelical supporters of the series in 1999 was Charles Colson. "The magic in these books is purely mechanical, as opposed to occultic," he said in his BreakPoint broadcast. "That is, Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don't make contact with a supernatural world. … The plots reinforce the theme that evil is real, and must be courageously opposed. … [Harry and his friends] develop courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another—even at the risk of their lives. Not bad lessons in a self-centered world."

Now, eight years later, Colson tells his listeners, "Personally, I don't recommend the Potter books. I'd rather Christian kids not read them. … Dare [Christian kids] to have Daniel as their role model, not Harry Potter."

But four days after Colson's BreakPoint commentary, Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley had his own BreakPoint commentary recommending the books. "They are a good read," he said. "People ...

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