The Freedom From Religion Foundation is running a provocative full-page ad picturing a bible and the Book of Mormon with a headline saying “BAN THESE BOOKS” in Sunday’s Salt Lake City Tribune.
The national state/church watchdog is raising the stakes in its campaign to compel Utah to treat so-called “holy books” like the other literature some of its school districts are now recklessly removing from school libraries in the wake of a book-banning law.
“If the state of Utah and its school boards insist on censoring ‘sensitive’ material in our public schools,” the FFRF ad states, “then they must start with the bible and Book of Mormon.”
FFRF adds: “Thoughtful people abhor the banning of books, as does the Freedom of Religion Foundation.” But FFRF notes, “Utah cannot adopt one standard for so-called ‘holy books’ and another for all other books.” The wisest course is for the legislature to end the “folly of book banning” by repealing the misguided law, H.B. 374, thereby striking a blow for the freedom to read and the First Amendment.
FFRF jumped into the fray after bolstering the complaint of a district parent in Farmington, Utah, whose request to ban the bible in light of numerous book removals in Davis County Schools ended in a controversial vote May 31 to remove the King James Version from lower grade libraries. FFRF maintains the district did not go far enough and is prodding Davis County Schools to remove bibles from all school libraries. Among the books banned by the Davis School District is great literature, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”
The ad notes that the bible is “replete with violent, graphic, degrading descriptions as well as age-inappropriate stories.” These includes descriptions, FFRF says, of “sperm, menstruation, intercourse, rape, incest, masturbation, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, sadism, sexual mutilation and ‘harlots’ and ‘whores.’” Sordid tales of incest, rape, voyeurism, pimping, plural marriages, concubinage and more are told, often approvingly, within its covers, continues the ad.
Some passages, such as found in Ezekiel 23:20–21 and Revelation, Chapter 17, “cannot even be printed in a family-friendly newspaper.” It offers documentation at ffrf.org/X-rated and unpleasantgod.ffrf.org. The ad also references Moroni 9 and Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon, which pertain to raping and killing war prisoners and concubines and polygamy.
The Davis County Schools vote has created statewide consternation by religionists, including a rally last week at the state Capitol.
“This is a case of being careful what you wish for,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. Gaylor points out that atheists and agnostics statistically know more about religion than believers, according to Pew Research Center, and polls consistently show they know the most about the content of the bible, including its less palatable passages.
“The Davis County Schools bible ban is a logical if unintended consequence of this very bad bill, and we hope these consequences will lead to the rational conclusion of repealing H.B. 374.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the largest national association of freethinkers, representing 41,000 atheists, agnostics, and others (including hundreds of members in Utah) who form their opinions about religion based on reason, rather than faith, tradition or authority.