North America

US Catholic school bans Harry Potter books because they 'conjure evil spirits'

A Catholic primary school in Nashville has removed the Harry Potter series from its library amid fears it could lead to students "conjuring evil spirits".

A Catholic primary school in the US state of Tennessee has banned books from the Harry Potter series because a pastor said reading them could lead to students "conjuring evil spirits".

The Tennessean newspaper reports Reverend Dan Reehil, a pastor at Saint Edwards Catholic School in Nashville, sent an email to parents saying exorcists in the US and Italy recommended removing the books.

“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact, a clever deception,” Rev Reehil reportedly wrote in the email.

“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, said Rev Reehil was “well within his authority” to send the email.

"Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school," she told the Tennessean.

The Harry Potter books, written by British author J.K. Rowling and published between 1997 and 2007, have an enormous fan base.

Their success spurred eight films, which collectively earned US$7.7 billion at the box office. Additional books, movies and stage plays that take place in the same universe have also been created.

The books have drawn controversy in religious circles before, mostly due to claims they contain Satanic subtexts.

A number of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians have argued against the series, as have some Sunni and Shia Muslims.

A statement made by author J.K. Rowling in 2017 that Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter’s mentor-figure in the series, was gay also caused a stir in religious communities.

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