Harry Potter’s Religion

Q. What religion is Harry Potter?

Answer: I’m not sure JK Rowling has answered this question in any of the books. Witchcraft isn’t treated as a religion, so the answer isn’t ‘Wiccan’. It has been indicated that the Dursleys, Harry’s aunt and uncle, celebrate Christmas, though not really as a religious hoilday. They just bury their spoiled son in presents. I don’t think Rowling has touched upon the faith of James or Lily Potter, much less of Harry. She certainly hasn’t touched upon ethnic and cultural identity.

Q. What religion is Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who portrays Harry Potter in the films?

Answer: In a recent interview in Australia (see below) he revealed his mother is Jewish, and his father is Protestant. However, he implied he wasn’t raised in either religion, and doesn’t consider himself any religion. Though Religion and Philosophy are two academic subjects that do interest him.

If by accident of birth his parentage were switched, this would be much less the news story that it is. But some will undoubtedly latch on to certain Conservative/Orthodox religious definitions and proclaim him Jewish. There’s already this article. While I haven’t found the news yet anywhere else except fan message boards, it will be very surprising to me if it doesn’t start to spread fairly quickly. Whether it is out of pride, or hate, the action is misplaced. He is an adult (17). He has stated that he is not religious at all. The religions of his parents should be irrelevant. (His own religion should be irrelevant, unless he chooses to emphasize it, but for some, out of either pride or hate, this will never be.)

There are a few other interesting facets of the interview. Apparently fans in the US are a lot more aggressive than elsewhere. He also remains convinced his character will die at the end of the seventh novel. I remain hopeful that Rowling will come up with a different, but still satisfying ending.