With over 500 million copies sold worldwide, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is one of the most popular works of fiction of all time and millions of children have grown up with Harry and the magical wizarding world. Over the years, the series has attracted criticism from some religious groups, who believe the books promote witchcraft to young children. In the latest attack against the books, a group of Catholic priests in Poland have taken to burning the books.
A Polish evangelical group called the SMS from Heaven Foundation recently published pictures on their Facebook page burning Rowling’s books in the city of city of Gdansk. The post justifies the book burning by quoting bible verses which condemn magic. In Polish, a post reads: “We obey the word.”
As the BBC reports, a quoted verse from Acts reads: “many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver”.
A passage, from Deuteronomy, says: “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.”
The SMS from Heaven Foundation is located in Koszalin, just west of Gdansk. Many comments from other Facebook users on the group’s post expressed contempt for the priests’ actions.One user wrote: “I have not met anyone yet who would rape, murder and steal in the name of Harry Potter. In the name of the Bible, yes. Bad news, gentlemen!”
Another user quoted the German poet Heinrich Heine, who wrote in 1823: “Where books are burned, in the end, people will also be burned.” Heine’s quote is especially pertinent given that, during Hitler’s rise to power, the Nazis burned many books which were not in line with the party’s beliefs.
Catholicism is the most prominent religion in Poland, with around 90% identifying as Roman Catholics. Catholic ideals have a deep influence in Polish society, though a damming report rocked Catholics, especially those in Poland, when the Church released a report which documented sexual abuse of children by almost 400 Polish priests between the years 1990 and 2018.