The seventh and final “Harry Potter” book was released July 21, and Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson just couldn’t help himself. He had to remind everyone again of the dangers of reading about witchcraft.
Dobson was moved to pop off after The Washington Post inaccurately reported that the fundamentalist morality crusader has praised the Potter books.
In fact, Dobson, like many other Religious Right leaders, has blasted author J.K. Rowling’s series for youngsters about the adventures of a boy wizard in training, arguing that the tomes might lead children away from Christianity.
FOF’s CitizenLink Daily Update was quick to set the record straight.
“Dr. James Dobson wants all friends of Focus on the Family to know about an error involving him that appeared on Page 1 of Wednesday’s Washington Post,” the email alert stated. “In a story about Christians’ views on the Harry Potter books and films, reporter Jacqueline Salmon wrote that ‘Christian parenting guru James Dobson has praised the Potter books.’ This is the exact opposite of Dr. Dobson’s opinion – in fact, he said a few years ago on his daily radio broadcast that ‘We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products.’
“His rationale for that statement: Magical characters – witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists, and so on – fill the Harry Potter stories, and given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it’s difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.”
Over the years, Dobson, TV preacher Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell and others have attacked the Potter books, and some fundamentalist Christians have tried to ban them from public schools and libraries. (See “Witch Hunt,” March 2002 Church & State)
Religious Right reaction to the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was a little more muted. The Web site of Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, which used to have an entire section attacking the Potter books, was strangely silent this time, offering only a negative review of the movie “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which is based on the fifth book.
Perhaps Religious Right leaders realized their attacks on the most popular books for children of all time were making them look foolish. The onslaughts also weren’t slowing down sales. The final volume broke records, with 8.3 million copies sold the day it was released.
In other news about the Religious Right:
• A Religious Right morality crusader in North Carolina has been arrested for hiring a prostitute.
Coy Privette, head of the Christian Action League in Raleigh and a member of the Cabarrus County Commission, was charged July 19 with six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution. Police allege that Privette, 74, rented a hotel room in Salisbury several times and paid for sex with Tiffany Summers, 32.
Privette resigned as head of the Christian Action League and has gone into seclusion.
• A member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives spoke at a Religious Right conference in July designed to help fundamentalist pastors “reclaim” America for Christ.
Sally Kern, whose husband is a Southern Baptist minister, told the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, “If Christians would go to the polls and vote biblical values, we would have a biblical society. We have to exercise our right to vote and stand up for biblical standards, or we are going to lose our freedoms.”
The conference, “Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ,” featured an array of Religious Right speakers.