Who knew a story about witches, warlocks and magic could include religious philosophies? A Kentucky college is tackling this connection as it explores the theological concepts of “Harry Potter.”
Centre College Assistant Professor of Religion Lee Jefferson spent the school’s recent CentreTerm, a three-week intensive course, discussing the connection between the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and religion.
Since the book series was first released, critics have labeled it “anti-religious” and “anti-Christian” for its connection with sorcery and witchcraft. But the class description asks whether audiences are reading too much religion into the Potter series.
“The series has always been labeled controversial in religious circles,” Jefferson said. “But the series also has some interesting religious themes: struggle between good and evil, notion of a hero, self-sacrifice, and life after death.”
He wanted to offer the series to students because it’s a “worldwide phenomena” that millennials can relate to and offer a “deeper theological discussion in.”
28 students signed up for the course, and almost all of them were Potter fans.
One student had never read any of the books before because they were considered a bad influence due to the supernatural subject matter. Jefferson says she was excited to finally be exposed to some of the books for the first time.
Three Potter books were assigned, one for each week, with additional readings in Christian theology and church history. Each Friday the class would discuss the Potter books to discern if and how any theological themes are apparent.
Jefferson expects the course will be offered again at the college. “Likely it will come back again in another CentreTerm … it will be offered in a rotating basis probably in the next two years.”
Watch the full interview with Lee Jefferson above.