Freshwater: Is Hogwarts a religious school?

| 28 Comments

Those who are unfamiliar with issues sometimes raised by religious fundamentalists may be excused for finding the question that is the title of this post a little weird. But out here in Knox County, Ohio, home of the Freshwater affair, it could turn out to be a serious question.

Accountability in the Media is a blog that comments mainly on local doings here in Knox County. Its author, a fundamentalist Christian, is a strong supporter of John Freshwater. He regularly videotapes Board of Education meetings, and has posted numerous videos on Youtube. (Those who are morbidly interested can see me in one.)

In December 2011, Accountability wrote about Freshwater’s appeal of the decision of the Court of Common Pleas upholding Freshwater’s termination. As an aside in that post, Accountability published a photo of the Hogwarts coat of arms on a banner hanging in the middle school library where school board meetings are held, and captioned the photo

(The Mount Vernon Board of Education met recently below a poster that could be interpreted as being of a religious nature: The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry coat of arms.)

I can’t tell you how amusing it is to see a fundamentalist Christian implicitly equating the Bible with a work of fiction, and how much fun I’ll have with that if the author of Accountability and his co-religionists push that notion. I suppose it’s possible that Accountability was engaging in humor here, but given that there is a history of fundamentalist religious hysteria over Harry Potter (see, e.g., here for an example and here for an overview), I wouldn’t be amazed to learn that Accountability is serious.

28 Comments

Man, it’s a good thing they didn’t have a poster of the Enterprise. These guys would have concluded that that was an endorsement of Klingon cosmology!

DS said:

Man, it’s a good thing they didn’t have a poster of the Enterprise. These guys would have concluded that that was an endorsement of Klingon cosmology!

Later in that same post Accountability has a pic of a poster of Yoda. :)

Richard,

Did any of them come to the science fair?

Richard B. Hoppe said:

DS said:

Man, it’s a good thing they didn’t have a poster of the Enterprise. These guys would have concluded that that was an endorsement of Klingon cosmology!

Later in that same post Accountability has a pic of a poster of Yoda. :)

May the farce be with you!

DS said:

Richard,

Did any of them come to the science fair?

It’s next week, the 23rd. I’m sure several will come.

When schoolteachers start burning lightning bolts onto students’ foreheads he’ll have an argument.

Yeah, or crosses on their arms with a coil. Nice!

The same argument used for saying that magic is not real is the same argument for why gods are not real. So if the religous don’t believe in unicorns and elves, tell them they are not being consistent.

Richard,

Do you know of any ‘creation science’ science fair projects in the the public schools there?

Seems like some of the local advocates would have tried to slip some in.

frankb said:

The same argument used for saying that magic is not real is the same argument for why gods are not real. So if the religous don’t believe in unicorns and elves, tell them they are not being consistent.

Well, it’s like what Henry the troll once said, in that there is (allegedly) a difference between magic and miracles, in that the former is done by Disney, the latter being GODDIDIT.

frankb said:

The same argument used for saying that magic is not real is the same argument for why gods are not real. So if the religous don’t believe in unicorns and elves, tell them they are not being consistent.

The problem with fundies is that the do believe in magic and it scares the to death. A belief in magic is a comforting terror to fundies. It erupts from the same source as their belief in gods, which arise out a desperate need to simplify a baffling world down to a few simple sentences that can be parroted without comprehension. If one believes in sky faeries the makes things good, but things are bad, then it makes sense to postulate an equally ineffable evil in which to encapsulate “teh ebil.” Hence magic is a comforting terror. It’s the enemy you know because it’s the enemy you invented.

Most religious belief start to make sense once one realizes that the point of religion is never to explain, but only to simplify

I appreciate the humour in this post, but just to be clear, if Hogwarts were real, or if there was some odd group of people who followed it, or if there are people who follow similar practices to those at Hogwarts (as there are), we would consider this commitment to magic to be religion, yes?

Jedidiah said:

I appreciate the humour in this post, but just to be clear, if Hogwarts were real, or if there was some odd group of people who followed it, or if there are people who follow similar practices to those at Hogwarts (as there are), we would consider this commitment to magic to be religion, yes?

Not if it worked.

dpr

Just wondering–does anyone’s patronus charm take the form of a bacterial flagellum?

Richard B. Hoppe said: Later in that same post Accountability has a pic of a poster of Yoda. :)

There have been news stories of Britishers and Australians entering “Jedi” as their religion. See, for instance, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8003067.stm

The problem with fundies is that the do believe in magic and it scares the to death.

A lot of fundie and Catholic beliefs are magic.

Imprecatory prayer, where they pray for god to kill someone, usually Obama these days, is just witchcraft. Begging or commanding a powerful supernatural spirit to do your will.

Same thing with the Prosperity gospel. Perform the right spells and you get rich.

Not to mention all the super powers available to them, healing the sick, raising the dead, speaking in tongues, immune to poisons and snakes, moving mountains and so on. That raising the dead trick is pretty impressive but all they ever end up with are brain dead Zombies.

The Catholic priests are magicians too. They have special magic powers that turn bread into godflesh and wine into godblood, transubstantiation.

In reality, about the only magic and super powers I’ve seen among the fundies are the ability to lie and hate lot while being ignorant. The priests seem able to evade the laws about child sex abuse sometimes but not always.

Jedidiah said:

I appreciate the humour in this post, but just to be clear, if Hogwarts were real, or if there was some odd group of people who followed it, or if there are people who follow similar practices to those at Hogwarts (as there are), we would consider this commitment to magic to be religion, yes?

Of course not. No more than alchemy or astrology are religions.

A lot of fundie and Catholic beliefs are magic.

Especially the magical power of words. In the world of religion, the way to make something come true is to SAY that it’s true. A great deal of theological analysis and thinking is bound up in the exact words, who said them and how. This sort of magic (incantations of the right spells) is explicitly recognized - God SPOKE reality into existence. And creationists reject nearly all scientific findings about our universe because the evidence refutes the WORD, which is more powerful.

Little wonder they put their resources into public relations, which they seem to understand and be quite skilled with. In PR, you really DO create realities by SAYING them.

I left out the Wizards. Of which there are thousands at least.

The Wizard in Rome is infallible sometimes. A great superpower to have.

The Wizard in SLC is a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. Very few people believe him though.

The Wizards on TV can create money. The televangelists simply ask and the faithful send them millions of dollars.

The Prosperity gospel Wizards can make you rich if you send them money.

Then there are the hordes of miscellaneous Prophets, faith healers, New Apostles, and what not. Harold Camping made millions of dollars as a Prophet that was wrong three times.

Want to see how much a fundy fears magic? Confront him with the number 666 in any context: the price of something, an address, a page number, or any of those satanic One World Government Evolutionist Conspiracy (OWGEC) numbers, e.g., bar codes, SSNs, license #s, etc. Hell, even the count of letters in someone’s first, middle, and last names can set them off:

Ronald Wilson Reagan (they preferred not to count that one)

Barack Hussein Obama (that can’t be his real name, since he is, of course, the Antichrist)

https://me.yahoo.com/a/x5oXaq09vJdY[…]YoHvSA#41bf3 said:

frankb said:

The same argument used for saying that magic is not real is the same argument for why gods are not real. So if the religous don’t believe in unicorns and elves, tell them they are not being consistent.

The problem with fundies is that the do believe in magic and it scares the to death. A belief in magic is a comforting terror to fundies. It erupts from the same source as their belief in gods, which arise out a desperate need to simplify a baffling world down to a few simple sentences that can be parroted without comprehension. If one believes in sky faeries the makes things good, but things are bad, then it makes sense to postulate an equally ineffable evil in which to encapsulate “teh ebil.” Hence magic is a comforting terror. It’s the enemy you know because it’s the enemy you invented.

Most religious belief start to make sense once one realizes that the point of religion is never to explain, but only to simplify

Thanks. You just explained why so many people would rather believe in magic invisible holograms than believe in evo-devo. It’s just so much simpler! You don’t have to learn any math, physics, chemistry, biology, genetics or developmental biology. You don’t have to learn about micro arrays, in situ hybridization, cascades of gene expression, cis regulatory regions or genetic networks. Why bother? Of course, you will have a hard time convincing anyone who is familiar with these things. That can be so frustrating.

DS said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/x5oXaq09vJdY[…]YoHvSA#41bf3 said:

frankb said:

The same argument used for saying that magic is not real is the same argument for why gods are not real. So if the religous don’t believe in unicorns and elves, tell them they are not being consistent.

The problem with fundies is that the do believe in magic and it scares the to death. A belief in magic is a comforting terror to fundies. It erupts from the same source as their belief in gods, which arise out a desperate need to simplify a baffling world down to a few simple sentences that can be parroted without comprehension. If one believes in sky faeries the makes things good, but things are bad, then it makes sense to postulate an equally ineffable evil in which to encapsulate “teh ebil.” Hence magic is a comforting terror. It’s the enemy you know because it’s the enemy you invented.

Most religious belief start to make sense once one realizes that the point of religion is never to explain, but only to simplify

Thanks. You just explained why so many people would rather believe in magic invisible holograms than believe in evo-devo. It’s just so much simpler! You don’t have to learn any math, physics, chemistry, biology, genetics or developmental biology. You don’t have to learn about micro arrays, in situ hybridization, cascades of gene expression, cis regulatory regions or genetic networks. Why bother? Of course, you will have a hard time convincing anyone who is familiar with these things. That can be so frustrating.

I have to interject a clarification here.

I agreed up to this point with the general musings that humans invent magical explanations for things that impress them, indulge in ritual, instinctively perceive incantations are mysteriously powerful, and so on. Sure, that’s all true.

But those things are true of humans in general; the creationist movement in the US is part of a post-modern social/political movement.

A big part of the use of post-modern religion by the US right is merely reaction to the fact that traditional religion mainly favored the civil rights movement.

Somewhere along the way, a paradoxically almost sophisticated, nihilistic, narcissistic cult of reality denial has taken hold.

But there is always an ulterior motive for the particular reality denied. AGW and the effects of smoking on health are denied because specific corporate interests are threatened by the implied logical reaction or rational humans to the data.

Evolution is denied because potentially unpopular edicts that certain people should be denied equal rights and opportunities (whether it be gays, women, or whoever), and indeed even unpopular economic policies, can seem, at least to those who have an ulterior motive to promote them, to be more convincing if presented as commands from the ultimate authority, and super-powerful divine being.

But for that to succeed you have to shut down “liberal” interpretations of the Bible. A selective claim of “taking the Bible literally” (while actually ignoring or even denying parts of it) is ideal for this. The parallel with equally insincere concerns for the “original intent” of the “framers” of the Constitution, which are also selective and inconsistent, should be obvious.

I started out with the “poor naive creationists are just trying to understand the truth as best they can, maybe I can show them that science is their friend” model. But ALMOST ALL creationist behavior is totally inconsistent with this model.

Which US political party do you think Freshwater favors? How many microseconds did it take you to answer that? But are people prevented from being creationists if they want to? Are there laws against private schools and home schooling? Were Jonathon Wells, Todd Wood, Casey Luskin, etc, kicked out of graduate, law, etc, school? No? Well then, if the ability to live freely as a creationist, while respecting the rights of others, is completely unthreatened, why were you able to answer my question about Freshwater’s likely politics, within microseconds, probably before fully reading the question?

There are dozens of people who self-identify as members of the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/Tea Party defined “conservative movement”, yet who don’t even deny one of the following - AGW, smoking/health, HIV/AIDS, benefits of vaccination. However, that specific, selective cluster of denialism is highly, highly, highly associated with a particular political movement. People who associate with that movement and disagree with even one of these denials are fairly rare and made to feel uncomfortable within it.

Please, JK, we know your position and your favorite counterexamples to what Harold just said. Spare us.

Just Bob said:

Please, JK, we know your position and your favorite counterexamples to what Harold just said. Spare us.

One reason for John to take this advice is that I’m not saying anything about the politics of people who do accept the scientific reality of the theory of evolution, AGW, HIV/AIDS, smoking/health, and vaccination.

There is, as would be accepted, great diversity on the science-accepting side.

But organized creationism is highly associated with certain other specific types of denialism, and a particular political movement and needs to be understood that way.

This whole Hogwarts episode has the term “Poe’s Law” written all over it, except we know in this case it’s real. Enjoy.

Besides the fact that it’s clear in the Harry Potter stories that magic isn’t viewed as a religion, Hogwarts is a privately funded school, and it’s in England* whose constitution has no establishment clause.

Triple analogy fail.

*Or possibly Scotland, but my guess is England

Challenge accepted!

It was Johnny Freshwater’s 41st birthday. Predictably, every year at this time an attempt would be made on his professional life. He had no idea why that happened, but he’d come to expect it. Almost, to feel like he had a charmed life - if it weren’t for the attempts happening in the first place. Johnny just wished to be left alone to teach real science and spread the Gospel, but that was not in the cards. Johnny was under the watchful eye of his guardians, the school board. If they ever saw a smile on Johnny’s face, they acted immediately to wipe it off. They were constantly looking for traces of “Mere Christianity” to stamp out. Being fussbudgets of rather modern opinion, they did not hold with notions like “God” or “morality” or “meaning.” The board, which consisted mostly of middle-aged ladies and standoffish men who fancied they had a professorial air, was very taken with “methodological materialism,” and insisted that Johnny take their pamphlets and brochures about it to class.

But today was different. While young Freshwater mused over the unfairness of life, a loud motorcycle had roared up, which startled the whole school building. On it was a stout, fierce-looking man. “Get on, Johnny! We’re going to the Institute!” he shouted.

“The Institute? What’s that?” asked Johnny, because he had to say something.

“Why, Johnson’s Institute of Discovery and Marketry, of course. Don’t act like a daft Philistine!”

Johnny had no idea what he was talking about.

“Don’t look so glum, Johnny!” the man chortled. “Dave Scot’s the name - I’m an autodidact. According to our house prophet, I have a bright future - and an IQ somewhere north of 150. Climb on board!”

Not really knowing why he did so, Johnny complied. Off they roared into the night.

After an hour of traveling Johnny ventured to ask “Do I know you?”

“Well, I know you, Johnny. Everyone does! You’re famous. You’re a natural sophist and pedant. The Philistines wouldn’t let you train up to do what you’re meant to do, now did they?” And he cocked an expectant eye at Johnny.

No, Johnny had to admit, they wouldn’t.

“But I am getting ahead o’ myself,” the man chuckled. “You’ll have all your questions answered when we’re at the dear old DI.”

.…

Nervously, Johnny let Headmaster Philip put the conical hat on him and set him in the corner.

He thought he heard a still, small voice. Was it - could it be - coming from the hat?

“No head for figures, so you can’t be training to do battle in Marketry at Koch House.”

“You won’t be in the same house the man who brought you in was in - you’re just not multifaceted enough for Dodgen.”

“Well, there’s Thomas Moore’s house - Faithindoor - not very wise, but very, very brave. I think you’d fit in well there.”

“But have a think about Athein.”

“Athein!?” exclaimed Johnny - “That sounds too much like atheist for me.”

“They’re a clever crew in Athein - Steve Fuller could talk you out of your left arm if you let him. A bunch of existential defenders of a faith they don’t share. But they do have … compensations. You’d learn the slithery talk of the scientists. That can be handy. You’d be able to succeed no matter where you land - they’d see to that!”

Johnny coughed and said “Here!” very loudly. When the hat did not respond, he drew himself up in a dignified fashion and said, with complete sincerity, “Get thee behind me, Satan-hat!”

“Ah, there, that helps. Faithindoor and Thomas Moore it is!” exclaimed the hat humorously. Still in that calm quiet voice Johnny was sure no one else could hear.

LOL! Thanks!

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 17, 2012 3:07 PM.

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