Update: SMS From Heaven removed the book burning pictures from its Facebook page. However, you can still take a look at one of them further down below.
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter is one of the most beloved fantasy franchises around. The books alone have sold over 500 million copies worldwide and have spawned a very successful film series. But you already knew all that. What you probably didn’t know is that some people take Harry Potter a bit too seriously. And I’m not talking about cosplayers who go to conventions dressed as Snape and Hermione or people who attend the Bothwell School of Witchcraft in the UK. No, I’m talking about people who believe magic is real and very dangerous. I’m talking about Catholic priests.
A Trip Back in Time
News broke out yesterday that a group of Polish Catholic priests banded together to organize a book burning ceremony in the city of Gdansk. I wish I could say that was just a bad April Fools joke but I’m afraid the medieval-style book burning actually happened. The group goes by the name “SMS From Heaven” and organized the ceremony in an attempt to send a message – Harry Potter books are magic and magic is heresy. Okay, that sounded like a Warhammer 40K quote but it seems to perfectly describe the occasion.
Despite not living in the 13th century (well, not physically at least), the priests publicly condemned sorcery and anyone who uses it. Given that Harry Potter is a well-known practitioner of witchcraft, it stands to reason that all books referencing the fictional character must be destroyed.
In addition to burning several Harry Potter books, the religious figures also threw into the fire a tribal mask, an elephant figurine, and a pink umbrella, among other items that were allegedly imbued with magical powers. Why the umbrella? Who knows. Ironically, the only people dressed like wizards at the ceremony were the priests themselves.
The Priests Used the Classic Scapegoat
As expected, the SMS From Heaven group quickly pulled out a few Bible passages to justify their actions as doing God’s work. The priests stated, “We obey the Word,” upon sharing images from the book burning on their Facebook page. Among the extremely enlightening Bible passages quoted by the priests, we find little gems like:
“Many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver.” – Acts 19:19.
“Burn the images of their gods. Don’t desire the silver or the gold that is on them and take it for yourself, or you will be trapped by it. That is detestable to the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 7:25.
A Lot of Polish People are Actually Quite Fond of Magic and Fantasy
Although the ceremony makes it seem like Poland might still be stuck in the Dark Ages, that’s not entirely the case. A lot of Polish people took to social media to ridicule both SMS From Heaven and its absurd ceremony. Others took the opportunity to remind the group about the countless sexual abuse and pedophilia allegations aimed at the Catholic Church every single year, many of which involve Polish Catholic priests.
It’s interesting to note that one of the first Harry Potter inspired LARP colleges of wizardry was established at Czocha Castle in Poland a few years back. Meanwhile, Moszna Castle is currently home to the world’s first Witcher school, which was inspired by the book series written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
Interestingly, it doesn’t look like SMS From Heaven burned any of The Witcher books even though magic is a major themed of the series. That’s probably for the best, though, as burning Witcher books in Poland would have likely started a full-fledged riot across the country.