There's more to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" than enchanting fantasy, say some local pastors who advise parents against attending the movie, opening today.
Isle Christian leaders urge
caution toward the
Harry Potter film
Harry Potter gift gets cold reception
'Harry' bewitches young crowds
By Mary Adamski
"We are trying to teach parents to be parents and learn how to say no," said Royce Tanouye, head of Word of Life Academy, a Christian elementary school which operates a block away from Voyager Charter School.
"If children go, parents need to be there and do some debriefing," said the Rev. Rick Lazor, pastor of Nuuanu Baptist Church. "It would be a great time for parents who care to stand up to the culture. Their children, like mine, will say they want to go. If I want to establish an enduring standard, I will try to help my kids make better choices."
The Rev. Travis Takamiya, youth minister at Calvary Chapel of Honolulu, said: "We are not putting anything out ... but it is similar to our feelings about Halloween. This whole witchcraft thing, people may think it is fun and games and become desensitized. If anyone personally asked me about the movie, I would say, 'Don't go see it.'"
The movie and the J.K. Row-ling book, on which it is based, have generated opposition nationwide from Christians who warn that the fictional tale glorifies witchcraft and the occult.
"There is really too much in it that approaches what real witches are doing," said Tanouye, who heads the 314-student Kakaako school affiliated with Word of Life Christian Center. "It steps over the line of pure fantasy into what Wiccans and witches are doing. They've got actual Wiccan artifacts" in the J.K. Rowling fictional tale, he said.
"We want to steer our kids away from that direction. Children will be attracted by the special effects. There are alternatives to watching it."
Tanouye said the Word of Life congregation was warned about the witchcraft elements in Harry Potter at a regular Wednesday service which coincidentally occurred on Oct. 31.
"We spend a lot of time working with parents. We can't tell them no, don't go, but we can certainly educate them.
"We are concerned about children's books and the attitude they have about adults," said Tanouye. "Harry Potter doesn't cast adults in a very good light. There is a problem with disrespect today. ... We don't recommend anything that shows that this is OK."
Takamiya said, "The Bible talks about sorcery and witchcraft as being not of God."
Lazor said he understands parents who are delighted that the Rowling books have stimulated young readers. "When the first book came out, there were positive responses. It seemed harmless fantasy. It is good writing. It got children reading again.
"Anyone who will open their mind to this will see there is a progression. In each book the reference to the demonic becomes darker," Lazor said.
"My take is that there is so much other good stuff to read," said Lazor. "I would hope people go to the Narnia chronicles by C.S. Lewis and Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' that have better moral underpinning."
The Rev. Steve Murphy of Olivet Baptist Church said the Harry Potter stories came up as he focused his Sunday night Bible study on discernment. "We looked at quotes from evangelical Christians about Satan worship vs. fine fantasy writing.
"I have not read the book, but I respect my friends' opinion. I have friends who lean on the side that it is in line with 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,' the C.S. Lewis fantasy.
"I basically said, 'I don't know on this one.'"
But, said Murphy, "Maybe there is another issue at stake; it is not a battle within the Christian community. It would be better to agree to disagree."
Takamiya agreed: "It is important, but there are other things facing society today that need our energy and attention."