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A Catholic school in Nashville, Tennessee has banned Harry Potter books, warning that the spells and curses in the novels are real and reading them could cause irreversible damage.
According to the Tennessean, Rev. Dan Reehil, one of St. Edward school’s pastors, says the spells and curses presented in J.K. Rowling’s books are not only real, but could cause problems for children who read them.
As a result, the school is no longer allowing its pre-K through eighth grade students to check out Harry Potter books from the library.
The Tennessean published an email sent to parents by Rev. Reehil which read:
“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.”
It is reported that the decision was made after consulting several exorcists in the U.S. and Rome who recommended removing the books.
While the Catholic Church doesn’t have an official position, each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school, Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville said.
This is not the first time the best-selling books have caused controversy in the Catholic Church.
The books that touch on themes like magic and wizardry have been viewed as sacrilegious by many Christian groups and boycotted many times.
Earlier this year, a group of Catholic priests in Poland burned books they considered sacrilegious, including those from the Harry Potter and Twilight series.
A Catholic evangelical group “SMS from Heaven” posted pictures on its Facebook page showing Harry Potter books on top of a burning fire pit, reports the BBC.
“We obey the Word,” the priests said in a now deleted Facebook post which showed photographs of the public book burning and quoting Bible passages from the book of Deuteronomy.
The pictures also show three priests carrying a basket of books and other items, including an African-styled mask through a church to an outside fire pit.
“Many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver,” read a caption from the Book of Acts posted by the group.
Another excerpt from the Book of Deuteronomy said, “Burn the images of their gods. Don’t desire the silver or the gold that is on them and take it for yourself, or you will be trapped by it. That is detestable to the Lord your God.”
After the post went viral and sparked a great deal of outrage, the Catholic priest who led the public burning of the Harry Potter books has apologized.
Rev. Rafal Jarosiewicz expressed his regret on Facebook and said the burning of objects linked to the occult was “unfortunate.”
Comments under the original post condemned the act, recalling book-burning during Nazi rule in Germany before the Second World War.
One user wrote, “Can’t you see how sick this is? What are your plans next, burning witches?”
Another wrote, “As a Catholic, I don’t agree with you, burning books is stupid.”
Following the incident, Rev. Jarosiewicz was fined and a group contacted prosecutors about the open fire, according to the Associated Press.