These books [Harry Potter] present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. 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.
This is the one hundred and seventy-fifth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip from an interview of John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.
Scores of American Christian parents believe that the Harry Potter books are a door to sorcery and the occult. Fearing that their children will turn into warlocks, witches, or sorcerers if they read the books, these parents refuse to let their children check the books out from the public or school library. My Evangelical ex-daughter-in-law is one such parent. She refuses to let her children read the books, whereas their father has no problem with them doing so. These grandchildren, ages eleven and nine, are voracious readers, as are our other grandchildren. We encourage them, as we did their parents, to read, read, read. So far, most of our grandchildren have advanced (high school, college level) reading skills. Polly and I are delighted to see their love of books.
When the Harry Potter books first came out, I was still an Evangelical pastor. I was somewhat concerned with the content of the books, so I had Polly read the books first. The books passed the Polly Test with flying colors. Our younger children read the Potter books several times over the years, and our grandchildren are now reading those very same well-worn copies.
While Polly and I were hardcore, devout followers of Jesus, when it came to what we allowed our children to read, we were indifferent liberals. Our older sons can testify to the fact that they were allowed to read books that many homeschooling Evangelical parents would have disproved of. This contradiction baffles me to this day. I don’t know why we let them read whatever they wanted to read, but we did. And, as best I can tell, they are better off because we did. Of course, a few Evangelicals likely will say that the Gerencser family’s rejection of the one true faith is directly connected to our liberal/secular reading habits. Books ruined us!
When I deconverted in 2008, I received a letter from a former parishioner that told me in no uncertain terms that books led to my loss of faith. She told me that I needed to return to reading only the Bible. If I would do so, she was sure my faith would return. I did not heed her advice.
Were you allowed to read whatever you wanted? If not, what books were on your parent’s banned-books list? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
A man by the name of Patrick Holt from Grover Hill, Ohio responded today to my May 25, 2016 letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News concerning the Transgender bathroom use issue. Holt, as far as I can tell, pastors an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Grover Hill. I featured his church in the On the Road Looking for God’s True Church series. Here’s what Holt had to say:
This is a reply to the May 25 letter by Bruce Gerencser.
In his letter he implied that someone, like myself, who objected to a male using the same bathroom that my mother, wife, daughters, and granddaughters were using was hateful. So, basically, if you disagree with someone, then that, according to Bruce, is hateful. Using that same logic, then Bruce Gerencser, must hate Christians, God and the Bible. Would that not be a proper statement?
Patrick Holt, Grover Hill
Holt would like people to think that the whole Transgender bathroom use issue is all about differences of opinion. It’s not. Holt knows that many Evangelicals — himself included — hate transgendered people and homosexuals. Many Evangelicals — especially those at the far extreme right of Evangelicalism — want sexual perverts (code for non-heterosexuals) to be punished for their deviance. Some Evangelicals even go so far as to call for the incarceration and executions of such people. I think I am on firm ground then when I say that many Evangelicals HATE, not just the sin, but also the sinner.
Holt, as most people who hold to his version of sexual hysteria, sees the Transgender bathroom use issue as one of men using the women’s restroom. He fails to understand that most of the “men” using the women’s restroom are in the process or have completed chemical/surgical gender reassignment. This means that the “men” Holt is so worried about look like women. In fact, some of them are quite beautiful.
Why doesn’t Holt mention “women” using the men’s restroom? I have yet to hear a peep from Holt’s crowd about Transgenders using the men’s room. Again, most of the “women” using the men’s restroom look like men. I think that the primary reason Evangelicals focus on the “men” using the women’s restroom is because they view their mothers, wives, daughters, and granddaughters as weaker vessels (1 Peter 3:7) in need of protection. I think that if a man actually went into the women’s restroom while women were present, well…he would likely run screaming from the room, minus his testicles.
Holt’s attempt to paint me as a hater falls flat on its face. People who know me know that I am not inclined to hate anyone. I hate certain ideas and beliefs. I despise Holt’s Evangelical beliefs because I think they lead to intellectual stagnation and can and do cause psychological damage. And in some instances these beliefs can cause physical harm. Politically, Evangelical beliefs are the theological currency which drive the move towards establishing a Christian theocracy. Denying the separation of Church and State, many Evangelicals will not rest until King Jesus is sitting on a throne in the Oval Office. Socially, Evangelical beliefs lead to cultural stagnation and impede progress. Evangelicals, armed with an ancient religious text, have waged war against women, undocumented workers, abortion doctors, atheists, humanists, secularists, Democrats, non-Evangelicals, liberal Christians, Barack Obama, and those who have sex outside of monogamous heterosexual marriages. Scientifically, many Evangelicals are determined to teach creationism and Noah’s flood in the public school classrooms. You see, there are plenty of Evangelical beliefs to hate, but unlike Holt with Transgenders and homosexuals, I don’t hate Evangelicals. While I think people such as Ken Ham, Steven Anderson, the Phelps clan, and a cast of thousands, are first-rate cretins, dolts, morons, halfwits, loons, numbskulls, schmucks, or numbnuts, I don’t hate them. If anything, I pity them, knowing that religious ignorance keeps them chained to the Bible with its fables and contradictions.
Holt — like many Evangelicals — thinks atheists hate God — God being, of course, the Christian deity. If Holt were sitting across the table from me I would ask him if he hated Harry Potter, Santa Claus, or Darth Vader. Holt would surely reply, Of course not. These characters are fictional. I wonder if Holt would see the irony in his response? Atheists don’t hate the Christian God — or any other God for that matter — because he is a fictional being. Suppose in 2055, the followers of Harry Potter have turned J.K. Rowling’s books into divine texts read each Monday at Potterite churches. Taken literally, these divine texts lead people to do all sorts of mischief, often leading to physical harm or death. Atheists in 2055 would likely hate the beliefs of the Potterites. Does this mean these atheists think Harry Potter is a real person? Of course not. So it is with the Christian God. I don’t hate God for one simple reason — he doesn’t exist. What I DO hate, however, is what is done in the Christian God’s name.
As far as hating the Bible, Holt surely knows that the King James version he holds dear is an inanimate object, right? Hating inanimate objects is a waste of time. What I DO hate is what is done with inanimate objects. Guns are used to wage war and murder. Cars are used by drunks to kill and main. And the Bible is used to indoctrinate and enslave. I hate how the Bible is used in our modern world to promote ignorance, often leading to bloodshed and loss of freedom. So, yes, Patrick Holt, I hate God, Christianity, and the Bible, but NOT in the ways you think I do.
I have added Holt’s letter to the Local Response page. If you would like to see how local Evangelicals and Catholics have responded to past Letters to the Editor, please check out this page.