Harry Potter is 'Christ-like' claims theologian
They are beloved by millions of children and adults alike, but the Harry Potter series has attracted widespread censure from fundamentalist Christians who claim the books encourage witchcraft.
The congregation of the Christ Community Church in Alamogordo in southern New Mexico even staged a book burning claiming 'behind that innocent face is the power of satanic darkness.'
But now the boy wizard has found an unlikely ally.
Theologian Rev Dr Stephen Holmes has claimed Harry Potter should be seen as a "Christ-like" figure because he promotes Biblical values.
The Acting head of divinity at St Andrews University, said some religious commentators had been hasty in their condemnation of the phenomenally successful series.
He read the books after hearing them denounced as "ungodly" and concluded that they contained a very obvious Christian narrative.
He said: "What do you need to succeed at Hogwarts? Courage, self-sacrifice, careful logic and to be unselfish. It's almost a classical list of Christian values.
"The behaviour that is recommended in the Potter books is profoundly Christian."
Dr Holmes said the Biblical inspiration became most apparent in the final book, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, the film version of which is due to released next month.
He pointed to the denouement in which the wizard confronts his arch-enemy Lord Voldemort for the final time.
Dr Holmes said: "What happens gives the strong impression that Harry dies, discovers an afterlife in a place called King's Cross - a striking reference from a Christian perspective - and comes back to life.
"The effect of his death has been to render impotent the power of evil. That is a Christian narrative which is almost impossible not to recognise.
"JK Rowling is not saying to people 'you ought to be a witch'. She is trying to imagine a world in which wizardry and witchcraft are a reality and that is an important distinction."
The author, a regular churchgoer whose daughter Jessica was baptised into the Church of Scotland, has previously insisted that her books have no religious agenda.
She said in 2007: "I did not set out to convert anyone to Christianity. I wasn't trying to do what CS Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia) did. It is perfectly possible to live a very moral life without a belief in God, and I think it's perfectly possible to live a life peppered with ill-doing and believe in God."
She has also stated that the books have been "lauded an taken into the pulpit" just as much as they have been attacked from a theological point of view.