FFRF prods Utah school district to also ban bibles from high schools

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The Utah school district that made headlines for agreeing to remove the bible from lower grades last week did not go far enough, says the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The national state/church watchdog is renewing its request to the Davis School District, which is actively reviewing and banning books, to remove all bibles from its schools. On May 31, the district voted to remove the King James Version-only from elementary and middle schools, but retained other versions and refused to remove the bible from its high schools.

FFRF has termed the district’s bible ban response “inadequate” in a new letter. Writes FFRF Attorney Chris Line, “This determination is clearly erroneous as the bible contains more sexual material than many other books that have been found to contain ‘sensitive material’ and to violate the law.”

The state/church watchdog in late April had bolstered the complaint by a parent that asked the district to remove the bible from its school libraries if it was going to continue to ban books with “sensitive material.”

Utah passed a new law last year that permits local school districts to set up a process to allow parents and teachers to request removal of books with “sensitive material,” largely as deemed to be sexually graphic, but also seemingly targeting books with LGBTQ themes or by Black, Indigenous and People of Color authors. The district has set a standard and precedent for the removal of “inappropriate material” that clearly encompasses the sexually explicit materials contained in the bible, FFRF says.

“While FFRF abhors book banning, these school districts can’t engage in viewpoint discrimination,” points out FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Since the district has begun this dangerous folly of banning books, it must evaluate books on a content-neutral basis. And if it does so, the district will see that the bible is X-rated and must be banned under its policy at all public school levels.”

As FFRF’s first letter has documented, many bible verses display a lewd, depraved, pornographic view of sex and women, with sexual violence often ordered or countenanced by the biblical deity. These include sordid tales of victims forced to marry their rapists, graphic sexual depictions, and countless references to sperm, intercourse, menstruation, homosexuality, bestiality, adultery and “harlots and whores.”

In FFRF’s renewed campaign to ban the bible entirely from Davis School District schools, it points out the district has banned the book Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, a number one New York Times bestseller written by a survivor of sexual assault. Yet the bible, despite its “warped family values” and “slander about incest,” remains on high school shelves, where it depicts virgin daughters seducing their “righteous” father. FFRF’s letter points out that 13 percent of Utahns report being molested before the age of 18, with one-third of these assaulted before their 10th birthday. Milk and Honey could help such survivors heal while the bible story “has surely blighted many young lives,” FFRF asserts.

“So long as the other books you have banned remain unavailable, you must be even-handed about your purge and all versions of the bible must be removed post-haste from all district schools,” FFRF concludes.

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.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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