Blog Post

Occult-Fiction in Catholic Schools

libraryThe presence of occult-based fiction in Catholic schools has become a very real and pervasive problem across the United States. It all started with Harry Potter, but since then, there has been enormous growth in this genre with more and more titles being made available to children and teens.

For instance, there are over 100 books for young people listed on Amazon under the header – occult fiction. These include Spellcasting in Silk, In a Witches Wardrobe, Magic and Macaroons. 

The Jane Madison series includes Girl's Guide to Witchcraft, Sorcery and the Single Girl, Magic and the Modern Girl, Single Witch's Survival Guide, Joy of Witchcraft.

Sadly, these are all BESTSELLERS! And they are all loaded with sorcery – which is the deliberate evocation of occult forces in order to effect power over another.

God forbit any of these books, which are overtly occult-based, should be found in a Catholic school library, but there are plenty of less conspicuous titles that can find their way into a Catholic library and do just as much damage to a child's moral outlook. These include: The Alchemist by Paul Coelho; Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling; the Kane Chronicles and Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan;  Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne; Maximum Ride series by James Patterson to name a few.

So what should a parent do about this? 

First of all, when approaching the librarian/teacher/principal, don't go negative! Keep in mind that these people are much like the general Catholic population who are not very well versed in the occult. Most of them wouldn't know Satan if they tripped over him and cannot be counted upon to perceive his presence in the kind of nuanced way that he presents himself to our children - such as under the cover of "harmless fiction". In fact, I've met some educators who don't even know that magic is considered to be sorcery by the Church - a practice that is categorically condemned throughout Scripture!

So tread lightly here.

harry potterThe first thing you should do is educate yourself on this subject. A great book about the occult is Paul Thigpen's Manual for Spiritual Warfare. John LaBriola also wrote a fantastic book entitled Onward Catholic Soldier which gives the faithful a comprehensive view of this subject. The Church document entitled Catholic Faith and Demonology is another excellent source of information as is the catechesis of Blessed Paul VI in 1972 on the subject of Satan and entitled Confronting the Devil's Power (I use this extensively in my talks on the subject).

After doing this, share some of what you've learned with a teacher/principal/librarian with the goal of helping them to understand why the books are dangerous to children. If at all possible, let them think it's their idea that something could be wrong with the books.

Because you'll probably be confronted with the "it's just harmless fiction" argument, you might want to present the educator with a book by Michael D. O'Brien called Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture which explains that the problem isn't so much that magic is present in the book but how the magic is presented.  

For example, the Potter books use magic in a way that turns the moral order on its head with grave distortions of good and evil. It presents magic as being either “black” and “white” (a distinction that does not exist)and allows it to be used by both good and bad characters in the book. This makes magic morally neutral, taking it out of the moral realm completely and making it into a kind of tool.

chronicles of narniaIf magic is presented as a good, or as morally neutral, when a young person encounters opportunities to explore the world of real magic, what will make him/her hesitate if it's believed to be good?

Occult fiction also tends to include other distortions that can have a negative effect on a child’s moral outlook. For instance, in the Potter books, adults are presented as mean and those who don’t practice magic to be backward.

This is much different from books such as the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings which present magic in the right context - that it is evil no matter how it is used.

The bottom line is that getting these books out of schools isn't going to happen over night. It's something that will take time. It will require effort on the part of all parties involved - and in this busy world it will be very, very easy for Satan to convince both you and the educators that there just isn't enough time for all this.

So make it easy on the teacher - offer some of the alternative selections to occult-based fiction to great fantasy books for kids which can be found on the Family Christian website.

Last but not at all least - PRAY! And be persistent about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you in this task, to give you the right words, the right attitude, in which to approach this with love.

And don't give up. Remember, our children's spiritual lives are at stake. No price is too high to pay for their eternal life!