Catholic priests in northern Poland have burned books they consider to be sacrilegious, including Harry Potter novels.
An evangelical group, the SMS from Heaven Foundation, published pictures of the burning which took place in the city of Gdańsk on their Facebook page. The Facebook post defends the bonfire with Bible quotes condemning magic.
A passage from Acts, quoted in the group's post, says "many of those who had practised magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver".
Another passage, from Deuteronomy, says: "Burn the images of their gods. Don't desire the silver or the gold that is on them and take it for yourself, or you will be trapped by it. That is detestable to the Lord your God."
Some Christians object to the centrality of magic in the tales, as Harry Potter battles against evil, embodied in the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.
The SMS from Heaven Foundation is based in Koszalin in north-west Poland. The vast majority of comments on the group's Facebook post express outrage against the book-burning event and alluded to Nazi book burnings in the 1930s.
The Catholic diocese in the area has distanced itself from the the action seeing it as “unfortunate” but explained that although it cannot support book burning it is concerned about the dangers of propagating occultism and black magic. Indeed it is a fact that in Poland, a highly Catholic country, there are more fortune tellers and spiritualists then there are priests.
The action which has received wide publicity in the world media was not an action sanctioned by the Polish Catholic Church. It was the action of one priest who asked his followers to bring objects which they associated with occultism and black magic to dispose of them in flames. However, some of the people did indeed bring books and threw them on the fire.