If your smartphone is levitating, you may have just fallen victim to one of the spells contained in Harry Potter, the book series by J.K. Rowling that was recently banned from a Catholic school library in Nashville, Tenn., amid fears that it contains “actual curses and spells.”
Father Dan Reehil, who serves as pastor for St. Edward Catholic School, confirmed to parents via email last week that Harry Potter would be banned from the library on the first day of school due to potentially evil content. He sent the email after a parent asked about the books, local station WTVF reports.
“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception,” Reehil wrote in his email to parents on Aug. 28.
“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.”
Global News read several spells from the books out loud but was unable to independently conjure any spirits — good or evil.
The priest said he decided to ban the books after consulting with “several exorcists, both in the United States and Rome.”
He added that the book’s main characters operate in a “Machiavellian” way, using nefarious or morally questionable tactics to achieve their goals.
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An anonymous group of parents denounced Reehil’s decision in a follow-up letter obtained by WTVF.
“We as concerned parents are not surprised given Fr. Reehil’s fringe, conservative views of the Catholic faith and doctrine, his inability to critically assess and discern fact from fiction, and his fanatical obsession with the devil and sin, highlighted by his Church Militant view of our faith that sees life as a battle against evil,” the letter said.
The group claims to have met three times with the Diocese of Nashville in the last two years to complain about Reehil. They said they were speaking anonymously out of fear of retaliation.
“We affirm that he is not a leader for our time, our faith, and most importantly, our children,” the parents wrote.
In an email to parents, Superintendent of Schools Rebecca Hammel said the books were removed during a purge as the library was relocated to another part of the school. Hammel said an expert in library sciences recommended culling several books from the catalogue “for age appropriateness” and “due to poor circulation.” She said Reehil added Harry Potter to the purge list “out of an abundance of caution,” while acting in his role as school pastor.
“The books have never been part of the curriculum and were only made available in the school library for enrichment reading,” Hammel wrote in the email obtained by WTVF. She added that students can still obtain the books from other sources. “The school library will simply not offer them as part of its selection.”
In a separate interview, Hammel told The Tennessean that Reehil is “well within his authority to act in that manner.”
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The first Harry Potter book was released in 1997, more than two decades ago.
There have been no reported cases of the books being used to actually summon evil spirits since they were released, despite occasional fears from religious groups.
The book series includes spells that can do everything from turn on a light to kill an enemy — within Rowling’s fictional world only.
Feel free to give Wingardium Leviosa a try yourself and see what happens. (Just remember to swish and flick your wand when you do it.)