FFRF, Denver chapter billboard counters book bans

Billboard CO

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is ardently defending free speech in the Mile High City.

A 14-by-48-foot billboard proclaiming “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading” has just gone up for four weeks in Denver on Interstate 70 North facing east, half a mile east of Dumont Exit. The message, which is a quote attributed to polymath and humanist Isaac Asimov, is from the national Freedom From Religion Foundation and its active Denver chapter, which work to keep state and church separate and educate the public about nontheism.

The groups are calling attention to the recent alarming rise in book banning in the United States, especially in public schools, which is tied to a disturbing rise in Christian nationalist activism.

According to a Pen America report, “Banned in the USA: State Laws Supercharge Book Suppression in Schools,” there’s been a 28 percent increase in book banning in the 2022-2023 school year compared with the previous six-month timeline. An average of 100 books a month are being pulled from school library shelves. Censorship is expanding over themes centered on race, history, sexual orientation and gender.

The Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs was among the school districts recently removing several books from libraries after complaints from a conservative group. While such instances have been sporadic in Colorado, the number of book challenges has been increasing.

FFRF and its chapter warn that public libraries are also coming under attack, in the form of threats to state funding, such as rules just enacted in Missouri to punish libraries that permit minors to check out books their parents disapprove of. Arkansas is the site of another major attack on libraries.

Most of the ban book lists are compiled by 50-some organized censorship groups, according to Pen America’s report. The book bans are connected in part to overall attacks by white Christian nationalists against LGBTQ-plus minorities and racial minorities, as the American Library Association’s top ten most challenged books of 2022, dominated by books dealing with LGBTQ-plus content, shows. Also included in the top ten banned books is Toni Morrison’s classic tragedy, The Bluest Eye, a sympathetic but unstinting portrayal of a young African-American girl from an abusive home.

“The freedom to read means the freedom to think for oneself, learn, grow, stretch,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We agree with the great Isaac Asimov that if a book is worth banning, it must be worth reading.”

The national Freedom From Religion Foundation has over 40,000 members and several chapters nationwide, with over 1,300 members and two chapters in Colorado, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation Metro Denver Chapter.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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