September 4th, 2019 – Hermione Granger may have schooled Harry and Ron in potions and spells at Hogwarts, but one Catholic pastor wants none of that in his house of learning. Rev. Dan Reehil, pastor of St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, recently informed staff of his decision to remove the Harry Potter series from the school’s library citing the risk of conjuring evil spirits.
Reehil said he consulted with exorcists and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in making his final decision. The books, which follow the lives of young, inquisitive wizards in a very fictional world, were part of a larger examination of the library’s collection. Their removal wasn’t due to poor checkout performance but because of the pastor’s belief that Severus Snape might be teaching students real spells.
“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true,” 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 texts.”
Aside from allowing his Kindergarten – 8th grade students to learn super real spells, the pastor was also concerned with the less-than-moral character lessons they would learn from the young wizards.
“The books use nefarious means to attain the goals of the characters, including the ‘good’ characters,” he said. [The Harry Potter books] “promote a Machiavellian approach to achieving the ends they desire with whatever means are necessary.”
Potterheads, and those simply against censorship, mocked the decision online.
If your child attends this school, pull them out immediately.
If the school thinks there are *real magic spells* in *Harry Potter* then it cannot be trusted to teach your child real scholastic skills. https://t.co/sFgp1wSICY
As we found ourselves in 2006 all over again, Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, expressed some regret for the “undesired attention” brought upon the school. She also stressed that this decision was not an actual ban on the Harry Potter books. Students will still be allowed to read them on campus; the library will just no longer provide them.
The J.K. Rowling-authored books have broken records (and inspired a love of reading in young children) since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997. That acclaim, however, brought decades of pushback from the religious community.
During 2000 to 2009, the series topped the most frequently challenged books list, according to the American Library Association. In 2006, it ranked #1 on the list for the 21st century.
Rev. Reehil hasn’t made national headlines before with his objection to the fantasy series, but this isn’t the first time he has upset local residents. A group of parents, remaining anonymous, released a statement to WTVF saying the removal came as no surprise and only added to their growing concerns over his leadership style.
In 2017, they spoke out about Reehil’s focus on dark subject matter.