Announcer: Today on The John Ankerberg Show—“What Should Parents Know About Harry Potter?” Over 100 million books have been sold in over 200 countries, and Harry Potter has been translated into more than 40 languages. Now the first Harry Potter movie is opening in theaters all around the world.
[From Film Trailer for Warner Bros. Movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (excerpted from “Witchcraft Repackaged” (Jeremiah Films).]
“There’s no such thing as magic!”
“Dear Mr. Potter: You have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
Announcer: One survey reports that over half of all children in America between the ages of six and 17 have read at least one of the Harry Potter books. Are these books harmless fantasy stories or, through fantasy, introducing real principles of witchcraft and sorcery to our children? Today John’s guests are filmmaker, author and occult expert Caryl Matrisciana; author and founder of Rapha Counseling Centers Robert McGee; and author and columnist Berit Kjos. We invite you to join us.
Ankerberg: Welcome. Has your child already read one or more of the Harry Potter books? Then how can you discuss the content of what they read to bring them back to what God says about that topic in the Bible? Well, we have developed some questions you can use to start conversations, either with an individual child or with a group of children. Here’s the first one. You might start by asking, “Have you and some of your friends read some of the Harry Potter books? Which ones?”
Nande: Yes. My whole class read the first one in fifth grade.
Ankerberg: What Nande just said is true. Be aware, that teachers in public school classrooms are reading portions of the Harry Potter books or recommending to the children that they read the entire book by themselves. If they say, “Yes. I read the first book,” then you might ask, “Did you like the Harry Potter books?” This is what you will usually hear.
Nande: They liked it a lot. They said that it was really good, and how it was mysterious and exciting.
Ankerberg: Well, if the book was “exciting and mysterious,” ask your child, “Would you have liked to go to Hogwarts School? And if you could, what classes would you have taken?”
Nande: “Trance” and “Potions.”
Ankerberg: Whatever children say, follow up on it and ask, “If you and your friends could attend the class where they were teaching about trances or showing you how to make different potions, if you had that ability, what would you do with it?”
Nande: They would probably like to change like everybody into like a frog or something and they’d probably just go wild with it.
Ankerberg:“Why would your friends want to become a frog when they could become anything else?”
Nande: Because they want to gross out my teacher and she hates frogs.
Ankerberg: Now remember, our children know little or nothing about witchcraft and the occult. They read an exciting story and we need to gently inform them of what God says about some of the things done in that story. Occult expert, filmmaker and author Caryl Matrisciana, who is also a mother, asked some of these same questions to her own children and gives this advice.
Matrisciana: If you’ve listened to these programs and you’re absolutely terrified now about the occult content of Harry Potter and you’ve been convinced that there are dangers in your children having read these books, and now the dilemma is, “Well, what do I do? How do I find out if my child has opened up doorways into the occult?” Talk to them. Discuss with them where they’re at in their philosophical worldview now. Of course, you have to come to them within the context of the story. So, ask a question: “Would you like to go to Hogwarts? What did you think about Hogwarts?” The child will say that Hogwarts is fun, absolutely fun. Every child I’ve interviewed said, “Yes. It’s absolutely fun.” Now, dissect this context. Hogwarts is a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts’ purpose is to train children to become occultists—to develop the potential that children think they have inside of them to have power over circumstances. So when your child says, “Yes. I love Hogwarts. I’d like to go there,” ask them “Why?” Do they understand what Hogwarts is?
Then you have to ask the child, “What is magic?” You have to redefine. Because remember that the subtlety of Harry Potter is that everything from the occult world has been redefined into a child’s language, into a child’s form of targeting the child. So, when a child says “magic,” what does the child think? Do they think it’s just a wand and putting it on a pumpkin, as in Cinderella and the pumpkin will become a carriage? Do they think they, by having the right wand, could perhaps make that pumpkin to a carriage? Or let’s bring it down to something they think they can do. Do they think that they can change their teacher’s opinion on giving them good test results? How do they think they can do that?
Ankerberg: Another question you can ask your child is, “If you could become one of the characters in the book, would you like to be Harry, Ron, or Hermione?
Ankerberg: Okay. How come?
Aimee: He’s adventurous.
Ankerberg: Which of those characters would you like to be if you could be one?
Ankerberg: Oh? How come?
Nande: Because she’s just really smart. She sometimes, like, takes risks; but not all the time.
Matrisciana: See, if you ask a child, would you like to be Ron or Hermione or Harry, would you like to be in that position, the child will say of course they do, because the child has been enticed through adventure. But now let’s see, what is Harry? He’s a witch! So is Hermione, so is Ron. So now ask the child, “Would you like to be a witch?” The child will say, “Of course I don’t want to!” And say “Would you like to do the things they do—astrally project, leave your mind, when the first commandment says “Love the Lord your God with all your mind”? We’re not allowed to leave our minds. The reason that they get on to flying brooms is because the whole concept of Wicca is to be able to go into another plane.
Bring them to the stories in the Bible, where even when God took John to another plane to be able to look down into the future in Revelation, God took John to that plane in order that John could write a story for us in Revelation for our encouragement, so that when things happen around us and we see prophecy coming true, we can keep our eyes on the future and the hope of being with God forever and ever. Your child will not want to live with Satan forever and ever. Give them the concept of eternity, which has been taken away from this society, and it’s instant gratification—I want, I must have now. Eternity has been lost. Redirect your children to responsible concepts in eternity to want to do good for eternity for the sake of living with God forever and ever. Not for instant gratification.
And the child will say, “Oh I’d love to play on the Quidditch team because I love soccer.” These are two different things! Soccer is a reality where you are kicking a ball, working with a team situation. Flying on a broomstick is a concept of astrally projecting, leaving your mind, allowing a spirit to come into you in order to empower you to go elsewhere. So what a parent has to do is bring the concepts of this school of Hogwarts. When a child is asked, “Do you want to go, if you go to Hogwart’s, what would you like to learn?” Terrible question! We’re saying, “If you go into a school of witchcraft and wizardry, which of the magicks would you like to learn?” Now a child will automatically say, “Oh well, of course I’d like to do the nice ones, not the horrible ones of dissecting frogs and pulling out mandrakes out of the earth.”
Horrible concept, terrible concept in Harry Potter where this little root that’s called a human baby is pulled out of the earth which is known in Wiccan terms as the womb. A sort of disgusting concept, a sort of an abortion concept that’s taking place there where the children are reading about these little babies screaming and kicking and fighting because they don’t want to leave the earth where they were instilled. Now, a child will not draw to that type of a class because there’s some sort of horror in the child when they read that story and they don’t want to go there. So they will choose the better spells.
But the deeper question, the question to go back saying is, “Why would you want to go to a school that teaches you to go through fire (take them to Deuteronomy 18 that says God tells parents not to teach our children to go through fire), whereas in Hogwart’s, a little bit of floo dust and they transport through the fires and can communicate. That sounds very appealing to a child, because their imagination is taking them in places where God says, “Be careful, don’t go there.” So, one has to teach the child, ask the questions from God’s perspective, and then bring the child back to understanding and seeing that the books they were reading are books that are taking them in a path that God doesn’t want the child to go to. And children will respond when it’s done sensibly their eyes will be opened and they will say, “You are right.”
Ankerberg: Here are some other questions you can ask your children. Ask: “Do you have any friends who have tried to do these things that Harry, Ron and Hermione have done? If so, what?” And, “Do you think there are people who really cast spells, mix potions, and try to gain power over people?”
Ankerberg: How do you think from what you know, someone could learn to cast a spell or mix potions?
James: I don’t know, but if they could, you’d be wondering where they got their power from.
Ankerberg: Okay. Where do you think they got their power from?
James: It’s not God.
Ankerberg: Do you think that the Bible talks about some of the things in the Harry Potter books?
Ankerberg: Do you think there are witches in the world?
Nande: They think they are, but they’re not.
Matrisciana: See, most Christian children that I interviewed didn’t even think that witches were real. They didn’t even know friends who were involved in these things. And just as well, because the environment that they’re in is protected, in their Sunday Schools and in their Christian schools. But the children I interviewed from public schools knew friends of theirs who were witches! And when we went into the campus there were the gals, dressed in their black, with their black eyes and white makeup and black lips and black nails and were into “Goth” and had the tattoos and they were totally open to spells. They were casting spells. In fact, one Christian girl told me, who goes to public school, she was so scared because there was a group of witches there that were casting spells on them and they were reading the Bible during their lunch break. So the children that know about witches have a built-in fear. It’s the Christian kids that don’t understand that maybe have read the books and they just need to know that there are dangers. There are dangers. These kids are casting spells and, if you ask them—and we went up to the kids that were witches—and they believe in the magic. They believe that it works. That’s why they’re doing it!
McGee: And so we don’t really understand that we live in a spiritual world. I mean, most people think that the demons require visas to get into America, and we haven’t issued them any, and so they’re not around here. And, therefore, we just take part of Scripture and just rip it out and we say, when the Bible says that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities,” [Eph. 6:12] well, now that’s what they did back then, I guess. It’s not for us today. When it warns us to be on guard against the schemes of the devil, now, that tells me that the devil schemes, and he has plans. And I just would ask somebody to think about this, you know. If you wanted to affect a whole generation of children, and get them to where they would be willing to experiment with that which is empowered by the demonic, what would be a better way?
Well, first of all, you would have someone write very entertaining books. You wouldn’t have them write some technical manual on witchcraft, because kids wouldn’t read it.
Kjos: What seems so good to the world today is directly contrary to what God tells us in Scripture. But people don’t want to read the Scripture. They don’t want to see God’s guidelines that say don’t dabble in magic; don’t dare to cast spells; don’t empower yourself; don’t go your own way. We want to have our own way and Rowling is giving us permission in our imagination.
Ankerberg: Do you think some people think they can really cast spells, mix potions, and gain power over people?
Aimee: I don’t think they can but maybe they think they can, and....
Nande: No. Some people might try it, but, no.
Matrisciana: See, most Christian kids don’t even think that the whole concept of potion mixing and magic mixing and getting human hair and nails and putting them into concoctions works. But you can read stories of voodoo to them, real stories, what witchdoctors do, not the Harry Potter type of story that is luring the kid into accepting it as being alright. Take them to stories of Christian missionaries who have gone into countries where there is voodoo and black magic practiced. Learn about what the witchdoctors do, how they do it, why they do it. When a child is put into a real context, they will be shocked by it. When the child is lured through Harry Potter’s worldview, then they are learning to accept it.
Ankerberg: What Caryl said is true. Parents need to tell their children there are real people today who mix potions, put human hair and nails into a concoction, cast curses, and according to Scripture, these things can be empowered by evil spirits. God does not want us to try these practices.
Now, another question you can ask your kids is: “Harry and his friends talk to ghosts in the halls, see ghosts in pictures, attend a ghost party.” Ask your child: “Do you think you can talk to a ghost?”
Aimee: Not ghosts, but I think that there are spirits.
Ankerberg: Do you think people can talk to them like Ron and Harry did?
Matrisciana: You ask children whether they think ghosts are real, whether they think the characters in Harry Potter’s book could possibly happen, there will be mixed answers. Some children think that ghosts are real, some don’t know. Because the whole worldview today, the mainstream media is telling us stories about people that have met people after life, dead people have come back to them, they get visitations. We’re hearing in the news about the Virgin Mary in different countries coming back and millions and thousands looking at visions. So children are confused about all this. Take them back to, “What does the Bible say?” The Bible says, “We die once, and then judgment.” [Heb. 9:27] If a believer dies, they’re right up there with Jesus in heaven. A non-believer dies, they’re separated forever. Their bodies have been buried in the ground, but when Jesus returns, they’re going to be resurrected with new bodies. These are wonderful, wonderful promises of hope! Teach our children biblical perspectives and use Harry Potter, in a sense, as a springboard to launch off—not read with your child, because that is the same as opening up Playboy and saying, “Come on, I’m so happy that you’re reading, let’s read Playboy together.” and then wonder why the child is appetized, their appetite is opened up to the images that are in the magazine. That’s absurd!
Ankerberg: How many of the books have you read?
Nande: I read all four of them.
Ankerberg: Which one did you like the best?
Nande: Probably the Goblet of Fire.
Ankerberg: How come?
Nande: Just because it probably had the most action in it and it was pretty cool.
Ankerberg: What did you like best of the Harry Potter books?
Nande: They were just real exciting and there is never a dull moment.
Ankerberg: One of the things that surprised me in interviewing all of the children was when I asked them, “Do you think the Bible talks about anything that you’ve read in the Harry Potter books?” All of them said, “No.” This shows how much our churches, as well as parents at home, how much we have failed our children in not warning them about what God says about witchcraft, spells and divination.
Matrisciana: See, many Christian children can’t even correlate that what they’ve read in Harry Potter, the witchcraft they’ve read about in Harry Potter, is anything that the Bible tells us not to do. I was talking to a pastor’s daughter, and she had been witnessing to a witch in her school. She knew all the scriptures about witchcraft. She was trying to win her witch into a Christian worldview. However, she loved the Harry Potter books and had read them again, and again, and again and again and didn’t see that God banned sorcery and divination and that the one God was talking about that she knew from the Bible was anything to do with the Harry Potter one.
So, as we talked and as we have struggled through together in some of these arguments, she is now understanding that magic, the power, the desire for the power to want to change things, which she admitted she wanted to do after reading the Harry Potter books, she started thinking in her mind, maybe what Harry Potter has got is what I can do, maybe I can have it, maybe I can use it for good. I’d like to use it for good. So here was the process of alchemy, transformation taking place through her imagination because she wasn’t bringing her imagination under the obedience of Christ. Where God said not to even think or go into that because it is too tempting.
Once we were able to talk it through, at first she was very defensive, she did not want to see that Harry Potter’s magic was, that worldview, that she was changing her moral thinking, that she was accepting Harry’s lies, that she was accepting his reasons for cheating, accepting his reasons for being rude. They all had legitimate reasons. So I taught her to see that her morality was being changed, her ethics were being given situational changes in them. They weren’t absolute anymore. So she was understanding that yes, God has absolutes, and yes God’s morality was being warped.
So, slowly through that we were able to talk through the other areas that then if your morality is being changed to accept right as wrong and wrong as right, don’t you think that other things are being changed though the books? It’s been a long haul, but it’s been a wonderful haul, because she is coming through and she is seeing it, and she is being won back to the word of God, and she is taking authority now of the Scriptures that she knew and that she memorized, and she is seeing it and her eyes are being opened.
Ankerberg: Now, just because your child has read one of the Harry Potter books does not mean all is lost. This is a time to talk with them, to encourage them. If there are doorways that have been opened to the occult for them, we need to ask God to forgive us for allowing that to happen, to cleanse us, and then to use us to protect our children. God is willing to help us do this.
Matrisciana: And that is the wonderful news: that God is a God of forgiveness, and a God of love, He can bring our children back, but we as parents, have to understand that we have done wrong. We have to take the responsibility, that we have opened the doors, we have endorsed the content, we have said it’s just fiction, it’s no big thing. The children are only mimicking what the adults have said. That we mustn’t just disregard it just cause it’s fantasy, normally children say, oh, those adults they just want to ban the books and get rid of them,” well, obviously, all parents that don’t just let kids have what they want, whether it’s candy, whether it’s a trip to go to Disney Land, or whether it’s to stay with friends at night, parents become enemies for a while, not giving children what they want, but this area, in occultism, is an eternal issue.