A Utah school district removes Bibles
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Tilda Wilson, A Utah school district has removed the Bible from some schools’ shelves, NPR, 2 June 2023
Frustrated with book challenges and bans in their school district, a parent in Utah decided to submit a complaint of their own — about the Bible.
The Davis School District took the parent’s objection seriously, placing the Bible under review. This week, the district officially decided to remove the religious text from elementary and middle school libraries for containing “vulgarity or violence.” The ban will take effect immediately, with Bibles being removed from classrooms even as they close down for the summer.
The parent’s complaint, which gained national attention when it was reported in March, cites Utah’s 2022 law banning any books containing “pornographic or indecent” material. The statement calls the Bible “one of the most sex-ridden books around,” and includes an attachment of passages from the Bible they believe violate the law.
Under Utah’s law, books like The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe have been removed from schools.
The committee assigned to review the Bible for the Davis School District determined that it does not meet the requirements to violate the state’s law, but that it should still be limited to high school-aged students. The decision is already being appealed by another parent, and that appeal will be decided at a public meeting in the future.
Ken Ivory, a Republican legislator in the state, released a statement on Thursday reversing his position on the ban, after initially calling the complaint a “mockery.” He wrote that the Bible is a “challenging read” for children, and that the Bible is “best taught, and best understood, in the home, and around the hearth, as a family.”
The Bible was sixth on the American Library Association’s list of most banned or challenged books in 2015, though these were largely challenges, not full bans. The Bible has not been on the list since then. In 2022, PEN America recorded just one instance of the Bible being removed pending review in Texas.
In the day since this decision was announced, the Davis School District has also received a request for the Book of Mormon to be reviewed for inappropriate content. The Book of Mormon is a foundational text for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a prominent religion in the state. A spokesperson for the district told the Salt Lake Tribune they plan to form a similar committee to review this text as well.