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Putting a curse on Harry Potter: Priest bans book’s Latin spells from school

Written By | Sep 6, 2019

WASHINGTON: Latin is a difficult language to master, and not one that universities like to have in their curricula. The problem isn’t that Latin grammar is terribly difficult or the vocabulary difficult to master. Compared to Russian and Japanese, for instance, Latin is relatively easy. The problem is that with Latin, things can go very wrong.  To wit, Harry Potter uses it to summon, and banish, the evils of his make-believe world.

Latin: The most dangerous language in the world

Every year, the same scene plays out in Latin classes across the country. Students pour over their texts, attempting to conjugate a verb or to master an oration of Cicero. Then one of them makes a minor error and summons a major demon.

Theology of Harry Potter: College students graduate
with massive debt, useless degrees

In this age of tight university budgets, it’s difficult for schools to compete with the tech sector to lure skilled exorcists, and so the class goes to hell.

Linguists and theologians have long argued about why demonic beings are particularly attracted to and repulsed by Latin. Face it, the worst thing ever summoned by broken French is the occasional mime and rude waiters.

Spanish students worry about summoning Beto O’Rourke, though it turns out that Beto is much less dangerous than once believed. 

The real danger is, as it always has been, the power of  Latin.

Harry Potter is steeped in Latin

Hence the decision of Reverend Dan Reehil, a pastor at St. Edward Catholic School in Tennessee, to ban the Harry Potter series from his school’s library. While a Roman Catholic priest is in no position to ban Latin entirely from his school, dangerous bits of the language can be suppressed.

The good Reverand Reehil is the man to suppress them.

According to Reehil,

“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”.

Reehil consulted the exorcists on his staff – after Microsoft, the Catholic Church remains the world’s largest employer of exorcists – who assured him that getting rid of the Harry Potter books would reduce the number of demonic visitations at the school.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

It would also alleviate the school’s festering rat problem, as rats are attracted to dark magic and are an unfortunate side effect of failed transmogrification spells.

Critics charge that while the spells in those books are based on Latin, Rowling’s creative use of Latin grammar and vocabulary renders her work much less dangerous than the Latin mass mangled by a novice priest.

And it’s vastly less dangerous than a teenager armed with Wheelock’s Latin. 

Is Harry Potter the wrong target?

Some of Reehil’s supporters argue the contrary. They point out that banning Latin classes would be like banning assault rifles when the real danger is the cheap handguns of the Harry Potter spells. The odds of summoning a demon-like Asmodeus or Astaroth and being dragged to hell are remote, they say.

The real problem is that exposure to Dumbledore will make you gay. 

Others claim that, while the books may be innocuous, it makes sense to act from an abundance of caution. Reehil is nothing, they say, if not zealously cautious. And maybe a bit “Riddikulus”.

St. Edward is not a public school, and whether parents agree with or oppose Reehil’s decision, their opinions are of zero consequence. 



Jim Picht

James Picht is the Senior Editor for Communities Politics. He teaches economics and Russian at the Louisiana Scholars' College in Natchitoches, La. After earning his doctorate in economics, he spent several years doing economic development work in Moscow and the new independent states of the former Soviet Union for the U.S. government, the Asian Development Bank, and as a private contractor. He has also worked in Latin America, the former USSR and the Balkans as an educator, teaching courses in economics and law at universities in Ukraine and at finance ministries throughout the region. He has been writing at the Communities since 2009.