'Harry Potter' Books Banned From Nashville Catholic School Library

Students at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville will have to read the Harry Potter books on their own time. J.K. Rowling's best-selling, seven-book series has been removed from the school's library because humans can "risk conjuring evil spirits" when reading the spells, a pastor at the Roman Catholic school wrote in an email obtained by The Tennessean last week.

"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 Rev. Dan Reehil wrote in the email.

Reehil wrote that he consulted with exorcists in the U.S. and Rome who suggested the school pull the books.

Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, told The Tennessean Tehill sent the email in response to a parent's question. He also told teachers about the decision.

Hammel said the Catholic Church does not have an official position on Rowling's novels, but the pastor does have the authority to make the decision at the school.

"Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school," Hammel told The Tennessean. "He's well within his authority to act in that manner."

The superintendent said the books have not been removed from all libraries in the diocese yet. They were still in St. Edward's old library, as they were used until the end of the 2018-2019 school year. However, the books were removed from a new library for the 2019-2020 school year.

Hammel could not say what specifically made the pastor change his mind about the books over the summer and was not aware of other books being removed.

"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 told The Tennessean.

St. Edward is a pre-K though 8th grade school in South Nashville.

There have been religious debates about Harry Potter, with critics suggesting there are occult or Satanic subtexts in the novels, since they were first published. There were calls for the books to be banned from schools, even as Rowling included Christian references in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As far back as 2001, Harry Potter topped the list of most banned books.

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"The challenges seem to be objecting to occult or supernatural content in the books and are being made largely by traditional Christians who believe the Bible is a literal document," Virginia Walter, president of the American Library Association's Association for Library Service to Children, told the New York Times in 2001. "Any exposure to witches or wizards shown in a positive light is anathema to them. Many of these people feel that the books are door-openers to topics that desensitize children to very real evils in the world."

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