Something Wicca This Way Comes
BY MARK A. KELLNER, Adventist Review News Editor, reporting from Louisville, Kentucky
t may have sold 5,000 copies a minute – yes, a minute – during its late-July launch, but “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” author J.K. Rowling’s seventh-and-presumably-final volume on the boy wizard should be avoided, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor says.
“The ‘Harry Potter’ books and movies are contributing, big time, to the trend towards real witchcraft in our world,” declared Steve Wohlberg, whose latest book, “Exposing Harry Potter and Witchcraft: The Menace Beneath the Magic,” (Destiny Image, 2007) aims straight at the heart of what is called “Pottermania.”
NOT A FAN: Adventist pastor Steve Wohlberg warns parents against having children read the “Harry Potter” books, which he says are laden with witchcraft. [Photo: Kellner/AR]
Noting that Deuteronomy 18 contains counsel that believers “not learn” the occult arts, including wizardry and witchcraft, Wohlberg says Rowling’s books and the films derived from them promote a “positive” aspect of “white magic,” or spells done to promote good things.
“There's plenty of real occultism embedded in Rowling's fantasy works,” he said in a statement, “and in spite of naïve popular opinion, Pottermania is aiding Wicca's growth.” Even the founder of a major Witchcraft school agrees – its Rossville, Illinois, online training center is called a “Cyber Hogwarts,” Wohlberg said.
Wohlberg warns that when Wiccans summon “nature spirits” in their rituals, they are entering dangerous territory. “Occultism has a dark side,” he asserts, “and practitioners can easily become trapped like a fly in a spider web.”
Speaking with Adventist Review during the Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries convention in Louisville, Wohlberg declared that “witchcraft is about power, but Jesus Christ offers us his power, which is safe, pure and filled with love. There is no darkness in that power.”
Although themes of good and evil, light and dark, abound in literature, it’s the combination of “good” virtues such as love, tolerance and cooperation with the use of laden-with-danger wizardry in the Potter books and films that has Wohlberg concerned.
“I don’t believe every ‘Harry Potter’ reader will become a witch,” he said, but the books and movies are “desensitizing people to witchcraft.”
The latest volume, U.S. publisher Scholastic said Aug. 2, had “reached a record breaking 11.5 million copies in the U.S. in its first 10 days on sale,” according to a news release. “This milestone comes on the heels of the previously announced 8.3 million copies sold in the U.S. within the first 24 hours of the book's release at 12:01am on July 21st,” the firm noted, adding “to date, over 350 million copies of the seven books in the ‘Harry Potter’ series have been sold worldwide.”
According to Wohlberg, in “Deathly Hallows,” Harry Potter lays down his life to defeat evil and save others, which some now consider “Christian allegory,” yet there are vast differences between Potter and Jesus Christ. For instance, before fully passing over to “the other side,” Harry encounters another character who died in the previous volume and who encourages Harry return to earth. “This is rank spiritualism,” Wohlberg observes, “which is also condemned in Deuteronomy 18.” Thus Harry’s subsequent “resurrection” is nothing like the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead after atoning for humanity’s sins.
According to Wohlberg, in “Deathly Hallows,” the Harry Potter character is convinced to lay down his life to save others, evoking a Christian allegory, but on Potter’s journey to the afterlife is turned back by the ghost of another character who “died” in the previous volume and returns to life on earth. Wohlberg says this involves spiritualism in a “resurrection” which, of course is nothing like the Bible’s version.
“There’s a glimmer of light,” Wohlberg said, “but it’s bathed in spiritualism: ‘Harry Potter’ is a wizard who practices witchcraft.”
Sheathing a positive message with evil intent an evil one is “the way the devil works,” he said. Parents who favor the “Potter” books tell Wohlberg that their children are “learning lessons” from the story, but he asks, “might they be learning the dangerous lessons, too?”
He added, “if it wasn’t for witchcraft and spiritualism, ‘Harry Potter’ would come closer to being a great story.”
Wohlberg doesn’t believe that author J.K. Rowling, who was a struggling single mother when the first “Potter” volume was published in Britain and is now reportedly a billionaire from royalties on the books, films and related products, is an evil person, intent on unleashing occultism.
“She’s just like Eve,” Wohlberg said. Adam’s wife (see Genesis 3) didn’t know what she was doing when she gave her husband the forbidden fruit, he said, but the consequences were nonetheless tragic.
Rowling “believes she’s doing good. The problem is the good guys [in ‘Harry Potter’] are the witches and you are contributing to witchcraft.”
What should parents do? If their children aren’t yet reading the “Potter” books, don’t let them start, Wohlberg said. Instead, get an updated-language version of John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” as an allegory to read. If they have caught “Pottermania,” show children what the Bible says about witchcraft and lead those children “to better books,” he said.
“I’m not opposed to reading;, I’m not opposed to good stories,” Wohlberg said. He just wants to keep children – and others – out of the clutches of the occult.
More information about Wohlberg’s ministry to Wiccans and ‘Harry Potter’ book is available online at www.avoidharrypotter.com.