The Harry Potter book series, written by author J.K. Rowling, has been a long-standing favorite of readers of all ages. The tales of young wizard Harry Potter and his magical friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been capturing the imagination and spellbinding readers for over a decade now. While students across the country will eagerly pick up the books for the first time this year, students at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville are out of luck after the school banned the series.
Rev. Dan Reehil, who is the pastor at the Catholic school, initiated the ban on the books explaining to teachers in a letter that he was afraid the books contained spells that conjured "evil spirits" and presented a "possible threat to our faith," according to The Tennessean. "These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. 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," the email states.
Reehil says he consulted with several exorcists before coming to his decision to ban the books. The Reverend was out of town and not available for comment when news of this story was leaked to the press, but Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville confirmed that he did send the email after a parent inquiry.
"Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school," Hammel said. "He's well within his authority to act in that manner." She confirmed that the books were available at the school library during the 2018-2019 school year, but that there was a new library just opened for the pre-k through grade 8 school, and the books will not be available there. "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.
The response on social media was a mixture of outrage and disbelief, with many struggling to comprehend how a book that inspired generations of children to read could be removed from any school.
America has schools that ban Harry Potter.— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) September 3, 2019
Yep, the books that inspired a whole generation to read—and have been demonstrated to reduce prejudice—are apparently a menace to society. Expelliarmus!
How is this real, @jk_rowling?#ThingsWeShouldCancel https://t.co/kGI0d8FpPc
Others couldn’t help but point out the sheer ridiculousness of the ban.
I speak from experience when i say there is a VERY low risk of conjuring an evil spirit while reading Harry Potter. 1/63 pic.twitter.com/4a9nqaAs9T— Emily Roehler (@EmilyRoehler) September 3, 2019
Others wondered if more books were next to be banned.
On banning Harry Potter: well then, time to ban LOTR & Narnia & all of the fairy tales out there with possible hidden magical content...this from the Catholic Church too.... nobody better at hiding things.— kevin max (@kevinmax) September 3, 2019
This isn’t the first time someone has tried to ban the fantasy series. The American Library Association reports that the series topped the most frequently challenged list of 2000-2009, meaning it was one of the most requested books to be removed from school libraries.