Before the new school year began, the Rev. Dan Reehil turned to several exorcists for advice.
Reehil, a pastor at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, was worried about the heretical lessons that students could learn from the Harry Potter books, he wrote in a email to faculty members that was obtained. At the advice of the exorcists he consulted, who shared his concerns, he purged the series from the school’s library.
“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception,” he explained. “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’s hardly the first time that the novels — chronicling the adventures and coming-of-age of a young wizard — have been kicked off school campuses. Yet the furor over allegations of Satanism and devil worship has died down in recent years, and the choice to remove Harry Potter books from the St. Edward’s library appears to have garnered little support from the school community. Parents who aired their concerns Monday in an anonymous letter shared with the station suggested that the decision raised larger questions about the priest’s “fringe” views and his ability to “critically assess and discern fact from fiction,” and complained that the decision had been made unilaterally without input from parents or other school administrators.
In an emailed response to parents obtained by the station, Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, explained that the school’s library had moved over the summer, and books that weren’t checked out often or weren’t deemed age-appropriate for students at the prekindergarten-through-eighth-grade school were purged. The school’s pastor, “out of an abundance of caution,” decided that the Harry Potter series, which “has received attention over its presentation of magic and witchcraft,” should also be removed, she wrote.
Located on the south side of Nashville for over 60 years, St. Edward is “guided by faith and committed to educational excellence,” according to the school’s mission statement. Attendance at Christian doctrine classes and twice-weekly Mass is mandatory, and the school says that the purpose of its library is to “encourage students to embrace and model the gospel of Jesus Christ by providing materials that support the values and mission of the Catholic Church.”
According to Reehil’s email to faculty members, the Harry Potter series does not meet that standard.