Harry Potter Violates the Separation of Church and State

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 17, 1999 | Go to article overview

Harry Potter Violates the Separation of Church and State


As a conservative activist and supporter of family values, I am usually an enthusiastic fan of Suzanne Fields. However, in a recent column about censorship ("Senseless censors," Op-Ed, Dec. 6), Mrs. Fields made the mistake of employing the same broad labeling brush she accuses all those "censors" of using who criticize Shakespeare, "Huckleberry Finn," "West Side Story" and Harry Potter. The issues are very different in each case, but Mrs. Fields' attempt to lump them together is reflective of the successful decades-old liberal campaign rewriting the First Amendment to exclude the last line, which is crucial to citizen free-speech rights, - the right of the people ". . . to petition the government for redress of grievances."

Even people with an unpopular point of view can, in the long run, prove to be surprisingly discerning when their statements are examined in depth and not just snipped out of a deeper context. If Mrs. Fields had given the related materials on the Family Friendly Libraries Web site (www.fflibraries.org) a more complete review, she could not have accused me of wanting ". . .to blue-pencil the three witches from `Macbeth.' " The presence of witchcraft in classic literature is not the issue - the acceptable and captivating presentation of witchcraft to public school classrooms of 8- to 12-year-olds in a captive teacher-led setting, especially without parental notice, is.

Family Friendly Libraries and the majority of concerned citizens who contact us for help have not called for Harry Potter books to be eliminated from bookstores, public libraries, school libraries or school book fairs. We have not suggested they be forbidden the honor of publication or that they be burned at any extremist conservative literary stake. We have only asked that the public school administrators and teachers be cured of the amnesia they suddenly developed over the separation of church and state that has steadily drummed out of public school classrooms most fanciful, entertaining works whose symbols are to Christianity what the Harry Potter witchcraft symbols and concepts are to the very real practice of Wicca.

Wicca not only has tax-exempt status, which Mrs. Fields acknowledged, but its believers have been provided resources and accommodations to hold Wicca religious services for members of the military. …

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