FFRF to Utah school district: Return banned books, not just bibles, to schools

Screenshot 2023 06 21 at 4.21.52 PM

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has once again written the Davis School District, to object to its hypocritical vote yesterday to restore the King James Bible to lower grade libraries, while keeping many other book bans in place.

The district in Farmington, Utah, can’t use one set of criteria to evaluate the sex, violence and vulgarity in the bible and another set to examine other books, the national state/church watchdog avers.

FFRF writes that either the bible must be banned under the standard that has been applied to other books, or these books must also be restored to school libraries. The reinstatement of the bible proves that the issue with the removed books isn’t sexual language or graphic descriptions, but the viewpoint they express.

“Under pressure,” writes FFRF Attorney Chris Line, “the district has now decided that the bible should receive special treatment and remain in all district schools while many books with less sexual and violent content remain banned.” That is viewpoint discrimination, he notes.

The district declared Tuesday that the bible “has significant, serious value for minors which outweighs the violent or vulgar content it contains,” but fails to apply this standard for the other books deemed inappropriate for graphic or sexual content, FFRF charges. “This privileges Christianity and the Christian viewpoint.”

A review committee, mostly parents, voted in agreement with a parent that the bible was not age-appropriate for elementary- or middle-school-aged children, setting off a firestorm of criticism, including a religious rally at the state Capitol. FFRF wrote the board that the district did not go far enough, and should have also removed bibles from high schools.

The Davis School Board yesterday succumbed to pressure, including by the 70 persons who filed appeals after the bible ban was announced last month, and reversed the committee decision.

At least 37 books have been removed from Davis School District libraries, with 14 restricted to certain ages, and other books, including some classics, still under review. To contest these bans, a Davis County parent who has not been identified publicly filed a complaint last December, saying in part, “You’ll no doubt find that the bible … has no serious values for minors because it’s pornographic by our new definition … If the books that have been banned so far are any indication for way lesser offenses, this should be a slam dunk.”

In late April, after the committee had taken no action on the bible complaint, FFRF wrote to bolster that request.

FFRF’s latest letter footnotes numerous obscene, sexually explicit or graphic passages in the bible.

“This school district is engaged in outright censorship of books, some of them literary classics, while applying a different standard to the bible,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “This is the epitome of viewpoint discrimination and leaves the district legally vulnerable.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the largest national association of freethinkers, representing more than 40,000 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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