Photo: Alan Clarke courtesy of Esquire
I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but I know several people who are. This news may be shocking to many fans, but according to the UK newspaper The Telegraph , actor Daniel Radcliffe has admitted in an interview that he’s an atheist. I saw this on American Freethought and it doesn’t appear to have hit the main headlines in the US as of writing.
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. [...]
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."
There is no way that a comment like this from the actor who plays Harry Potter, a book and film series which has been strongly criticized by some on the Religious Right (for witchcraft, of course), will not have some effect on ticket sales right before the latest installment of the series is about to hit theatres! Not to mention future DVD and book sales in the US. It’s admirable that he is being open about his atheism, but I’m sure the studios and publishers must be furious and/or scared out of their seats right now.
Maybe his announcing he’s an atheist will help some Harry Potter fans consider religion in a light they may not have already. Especially since studies have shown that the younger generation is the least likely to find religion to be important and that the trend in the US is away from organized religion (the only group to gain in the recent ARIS survey was non-religious, who are now at 15% of the US), having a very-well known celebrity like Daniel Radcliffe openly declaring he’s an atheist could really open up some minds.
I think the more celebrities and scientists who "come out" as atheists, the more it will be an acceptable viewpoint, and the more people will examine their own beliefs. A debate of ideas is a good thing. Assuming the news does hit the radar in the US, I just hope that any protests by Christians or other believers are peaceful.