Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon makes some keen observations as to why Fundies get so irate over Harry Potter. She touches on a few points I’ve brought up before: that the themes of the Harry Potter books contradict the top-down authority of a Biblical hierarchy, and do so chiefly by demonstrating that rebelling against authority and thinking for yourself is inherently good. But they also fear Harry Potter because they can’t stomach competition. As Amanda puts it:
But mostly, I think that the woman above [in the video clip, which you should watch because it’s a hoot]’s uneasiness with the portrayal of magic and Lev Grossman’s uneasiness with magic that doesn’t explicitly come from god is what, in the end, upsets the religious nuts the most about Harry Potter. For one thing, they admit that outright. But mostly, it’s because fantasy fiction is a threat to religious faith, particularly those faiths that insist on the literal truth of the Bible. Harry Potter doesn’t lay claim to be the truth, yet in many ways, the narrative is much more coherent, cohesive and therefore believable than the Bible’s stories of magic and mystery. Which makes it undeniably obvious that it’s completely possible that someone just made the entire Bible up just as surely as J.K. Rowling made up Hogwarts.
also, for the Biblical literalism crowd, Harry Potter isn’t fantasy. They believe magic is real. In some ways this is a failure on their part to grasp the difference between reality and fiction, but it’s more a side effect of believing that a book of fairy tales is a true depiction of actual events. If you’ve already internalized the necessary logical contradictions needed to believe that a talking snake doomed mankind by offering your great great great to the nth grandma some magical fruit, then you’ve already accepted the idea as a given that magic is real. Sure, Herod called up some ghosts, Giants used to live in the Earth and angels flap their wings overhead. But, more importantly, demons are underfoot, everywhere, and they are really good at convincing you to do things you’ll be sorry about later, like talking back to your father or masturbating or thinking for yourself. And we all know that sort of freewheeling behavior leads to crack smoking, baby sacrifices and midnight graveyard orgies with the Devil. QED, Amen.*