Attempt to Ban Potter Series Fails

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In early August, some residents of Pampa, Texas, handed the Pampa Independent School District school board a petition containing 750 signatures requesting a ban of the Harry Potter series, as reported by On August 5, the board voted 5-2 to deny the petition and keep the Potter series in the school curriculum.

The petition to ban the Potter series was started by parent Sue Scothorn, the article stated. After attending a Christian convention in Colorado, Scothorn was convinced that the books were "subtle introductions to witchcraft for children and all 19 points of witchcraft are contained in these books." Furthermore, she said, she questioned why the Potter series could be used in the classroom but the Bible could not.

Regardless, the school board decided against Scothorn, though she told that she plans on contacting the Center for Law and Justice to see what steps can now be taken. Lee Porter, Pampa's school board president, remarked that in his five years on the board, no other books had received this much attention.

While the Potter controversy might be new to Pampa, it is not new to J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Rowling was one of the most frequently challenged authors of 2000 and 2001, according to the American Library Association (ALA)'s "Most Frequently Challenged Authors for 2001" list. Moreover, the Harry Potters series ranks number seven on ALA's list "The Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1999-2000."

Last month, a Cedarville, Arkansas school board voted to remove the Harry Potter series from the shelves of Cedarville school libraries. A Cedarville parent subsequently filed a lawsuit challenging the ban. If the case does go to trial, it will be the first such case involving the Harry Potter series to do so. (For more on the Cedarville ban, click here.)

"[The Pampa residents'] challenge to Harry Potter is another example of why booksellers and librarians must never stop building support for First Amendment rights by participating in Banned Books Week and other educational activities," said Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE). "We encourage all ABA members to contact ABFFE to order their free promotional kit for this year's Banned Books Week, September 21 to September 28." For more information, go to, or call (212) 587-4025.