2 May 2001
US church burns British author's 'Satanic' books
UK Psychics Report
The Harvest Assembly of God Church in Pennsylvania, USA, has held a ceremonial burning of "ungodly" videotapes, music CDs and books, including some of Harry Potter's fantasy tales.
The church, located about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, invited the media to witness the event. Among the church members and guests in attendance were teen-agers who led hymns including "Amazing Grace" and "Father of Creation."
Into the fire went 1970s albums by Joe Walsh and the rock group Foreigner; CDs by Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and AC/DC; and Walt Disney Co. videos of "Pinocchio" and "Hercules".
Titles by actress Shirley MacLaine and psychic Edgar Cayce, whose work touched on supernatural or paranormal themes, also went up in smoke.
The American Library Association, which tracks challenges to controversial books in the United States, said book burnings are relatively rare partly because local authorities seldom grant legal permits for such fiery spectacles.
"We haven't had any burnings that I'm aware of since ... I believe it was back in the '80s," said Judith Krug, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. "This is not because people have not wanted to burn books. But book burnings are really very extreme."
She also noted that the wildly popular Harry Potter series has attracted more formal challenges in public school libraries than any other book or book collection for two straight years, mainly on account of its references to magic and occultism.
In 2000, ALA statistics show, 41 of 646 challenges were directed at Harry Potter books. In a handful of cases, the books were actually removed from the shelves.
"The prevalent reason for challenges is the notion that if children read these materials, they will become believers in witchcraft," Krug said.
Only a few Harry Potter books were among the trunkload of articles fed to the flames outside the Harvest Assembly of God Church.
The church modelled the book burning on a biblical passage from the New Testament's Book of Acts.
Perhaps someone should remind them of the words of Heinrich Heine, now inscribed on a memorial at Dachau concentration camp:
Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen - Wherever they burn books, they will also end up burning people.