Well, now.Â Not only is Harry Potter a wizard and the bane of self-appointed morality police who storm their local PTAs and school boards, he’s an atheist to boot.Â Daniel Radcliffe, who has starred in the blockbuster Harry Potter movies, has outed himself as an nonbeliever.Â The sixth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, hits theatres July 15th.
In an interview with Esquire magazine, Radcliffe risked the US box office prospects of the new Harry Potter film by declaring himself to be an atheist.
In a pronouncement that will dismay America’s religious Right, which has long voiced suspicions about Potter’s “anti-Christian” message, the 19-year-old actor said he did not believe in God.
He also expressed his admiration for Professor Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist and bete noir of Evangelical Christians.
Radcliffe has been reticent on the subject of religion in the past, but in an interview to promote the latest instalment in the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, released on July 15, he said: “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do. Anything he does on television, I will watch.”
He joked: “There we go, Dan, that’s half of America that’s not going to see the next Harry Potter film on the back of that comment.”
JK Rowling’s stories of the schoolboy wizard are taken very seriously by some Evangelical Christians in the United States. One of the largest Christian groups in the country, Focus on the Family, denounced the books as “witchcraft”.
Conversely, the Church of England published a guide advising youth leaders to use Harry Potter to spread the Christian message, as the characters face “struggles and dilemmas that are familiar to us all”.
Prof Dawkins, author of best-selling book The God Delusion, is no fan of Harry Potter, once remarking that tales of witchcraft are “anti-scientific”.
Radcliffe is currently learning the basics of ballet as, somewhat modestly, he believes his job prospects may be poor once the Harry Potter franchise comes to an end. “The thing is, in a few years I’ll be 21, 22, and that’s when all the guys who’ve been at drama school will come out. They’ve been learning dance or singing and all that stuff, and I’m going to need to compete with them because I won’t have Harry Potter as my safety net any more.”