Friday, April 21, 2006


Dumbledore and Darwin

Laura Mallory of Loganville, Georgia wants to ban the Harry Potter books from Gwinnett County school libraries because they are "anti-Christian."

John Sugg, senior editor of the Creative Loafing group of newspapers and himself a Christian, points to a possible connection with anti-evolutionism in the United States in his article "‘Potter’ fight reflects religion’s growing role in public debate."

Like many religious Americans, she feels beleaguered. A poll commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League last November showed 57 percent of Americans feel religion is under assault.

. . . A 2004 Newsweek poll showed 55 percent of Americans believe the Bible is literally accurate, and the Anti-Defamation League survey showed about the same percentage want creationism taught in public schools.

To understand Mallory, keep those numbers in mind and recall a little history. Beginning in 1926, with the Scopes "monkey" trial in Tennessee, religion has been in retreat. Courts have tossed prayer out of school and banned religious symbols from courthouses. Time magazine’s cover, on April 8, 1966, asked: "Is God Dead?"
After stating that, as a result, "[r]eligion turned inward, away from politics" he notes:

There has been, of course, a counter-movement. Many date it back to the 1981 book, "A Christian Manifesto," by Presbyterian theologian Francis Schaeffer. He elevated abortion, largely a Catholic issue at that time, to a primary cause among many Protestants. He challenged Christian soldiers to fight. Many did.

Today we see religion dominating public debate. Alabama’s Roy Moore plants the Ten Commandments in courthouses. South Dakota adopts what may be the definitive challenge to abortion. And, Laura Mallory seeks to purge Potter from schools. Our countrymen are engaged in holy warfare. Republican strategist Kevin Phillips, in his recently published "American Theocracy," chides his own GOP as the nation’s first religious party.
One can certainly dispute that it was "religion" that turned inward. Instead, it might be more appropriate to say that some public religious practices, owing more to the Pharisees than to a certain itinerant preacher, were, for a time, abandoned or suppressed in the interest of a civil society.

But there is no doubt that we are suffering a backlash from those who think that government, from school boards to the President and Congress, should be enforcing their religious sensibilities on everyone, be it in matters of science, childrens' literature or anything and everything in between. Those of us who still want that civil society had better understand the breadth of this phenomenon and be prepared to counter it.
This one is literally close to home. Loganville is just down the road, and the same county school system. I don't think this woman has a chance of getting the books removed, but she is getting publicity, obviously.

I was delighted, however, to find that my almost-9-year-old daughter was aware of the story, wanted to read about it in the newspaper this morning, and even took the article in to her third-grade class. Her classmates are already abuzz.

And by the way, it's "Dumbledore".
You know, I thought there was something wrong with the spelling (now corrected) but there are enough Potter sites on the web (I checked, I swear!) that there was bound to be a fair number run by people who speel as badly as I do.
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