Utah School District Reverses Bible Ban, Allowing Inclusion in Libraries

Utah Ban on Bible
Unsplash/Rod Long

The Davis School District in northern Utah has announced the return of the Bible to its libraries after receiving significant opposition. The ruling follows a temporary ban on the Bible that was imposed last month due to claims that it contained "sex and violence."

The district board said in a statement issued on Tuesday that authorities had acknowledged the Bible's "significant, serious value for minors," which they believed outweighed any violent or profane material it could have included. After taking the book from the library shelves at eight of its elementary and middle schools, the district had received as many as 70 appeals. The announcement represents a fast about-face for the district.

Utah School District Reinstates Bible After Brief Ban Amid Controversy

According to the article in Christian Today, the parent of a single student complained, which led to the Bible's initial removal. Interestingly, the district allowed other religious texts, such as the Book of Mormon and the Quran, to continue to be freely accessible to kids of all ages.

The move to reinstate the Bible has now sparked new discussion on the inclusion of other religious books in school libraries. Following the recent incidents, a request has been made to examine the Book of Mormon, a sacred text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for any references to violence.

The LDS sees the Book of Mormon as "a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible," hence its suitability for school libraries will be reviewed. But as of Thursday, it was unclear how far along that evaluation was. Although this incident signifies a significant change in district policy, it also raises concerns about the place of religious materials in public school libraries. The incident serves as a sobering reminder of the fine line that educators must walk when using religious content in the classroom.

Also Read: Colorado Christian School Files Lawsuit Against State Officials, Alleging Discrimination in Universal Preschool Program Due to Religious Beliefs

Broader Book Removal Debate

A 2022 law in Utah mandates the removal of "sensitive material" from school libraries, and this procedure has drawn criticism for allegedly increasing censorship. According to CNN, parental engagement in vetting anything labeled "pornographic or indecent" is required by law. Critics claim that the policy enables the quick and careless banning of books. 

While conceding the possible need for policy updates, Davis School District maintains that the current procedure is nonetheless effective despite its flaws. A discussion on where to draw the line between protection and censorship has been sparked by the entire removal of 37 novels and the partial removal of 14 of the 60 books that have been reviewed so far.

Pushback is growing against school book-banning efforts, as exemplified by a lawsuit in Florida. According to The Guardian, the Lake County school district and state's board of education are being sued by students and authors of a children's book, "And Tango Makes Three," about a two-father penguin family. The book's removal, the plaintiffs argue, is unconstitutional as Lake County lacks any valid educational reason for the decision. This action is in response to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's "don't say gay" law, which prohibits classroom discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation up to 12th grade.

Related Article:Bible Banned from Elementary, Middle Schools in Utah District, Citing Concerns of Vulgarity or Violence