Bible removed from elementary and middle schools in Utah district

This picture taken on February 27, 2021 shows a copy of a Bible at an abandoned residential area of the old Fukushima First Bible Baptist Church inside the exclusion zone in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture - an area declared a no-go zone after the 2011 nuclear disaster. - Ten years after a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that overwhelmed the cooling systems at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi plant, sending it into meltdown, the Fukushima First Bible Baptist Church is a hollow shell. - TO GO WITH Japan-tsunami-anniversary-earthquake-nuclear-disaster-church-religion-Christianity,FOCUS by Shingo Ito (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) / TO GO WITH Japan-tsunami-anniversary-earthquake-nuclear-disaster-church-religion-Christianity,FOCUS by Shingo Ito (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

(PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Bible removed from elementary and middle schools in Utah district

Alexandra E. Petri

June 2, 2023

The Bible was removed from elementary and middle school shelves in a Utah school district after a parent filed a complaint under the states new law prohibiting pornographic or indecent material in schools.

But the decision is being appealed, a district spokesperson said.

The battle is playing out in the Davis School district in northern Utah after a parent filed a complaint last year claiming the Bible was pornographic and requested

is it

be restricted under a state law enacted last year to prohibit such material in schools and their libraries.

A review committee for the Davis School District in northern Utah evaluated the King James Version of the Bible in is entirety and ruled last month it did not contain sensitive material as defined by law. Still, the committee decided to restrict access to young children because of vulgarity or violence,


Christopher Williams, a district spokesperson

, said


The Bible had been on the shelves in about seven to eight elementary and junior high schools in the district.

but were of the text immediately.

School is out of session until August, and the decision was appealed days after the committees ruling, Williams said.

The Bible remains available to high school students in the district, Williams said.

There have been more than 100 instances of book bans in Utah, one of five states where restricting access to books is most prevalent because of state law and policy, according to PEN America, the nonprofit free speech group. In 2022, Utah enacted a law to ban any book from libraries and classrooms that contains content that is deemed harmful to minors, pornographic or indecent as defined by law.

Following guidance from the state attorney general’s office, school districts across Utah rushed to restrict access to books. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison; I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika Snchez; and The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood, are among the most frequently targeted.

The Bible came under scrutiny in December when an unknown parent, irked by the number of books disappearing from school settings, requested the Bible be reviewed by the districts committee for its purported extreme sexual content, according to local news reports.

Parents, as well as students, guardians, district employees and board members can challenge books, Williams said. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a copy of the request to ban the Bible in which the parent wrote that the Bible contains topics of incest, onanism, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, fellatio, dildos, rape, and even infanticide.

Youll no doubt find that the Bible, under Utah Code Ann. 76-10-1227, has no serious values for minors because its pornographic by our new definition, the parent wrote, referring to the state law.

Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non

profit that opposes book banning, supported the parent, despite the group’s overall opposition to book banning.

“This is one of these cases where the book banners have to be careful what they wish for because they can’t have their cake and eat it too,”

FFRF foundation

co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said. “They can’t ban X-rated material and not include the Bible.”

Passages from the books of Ezekiel, Deuteronomy and Genesis are just a few examples of the “unpalatable and sexually explicit stories” found in the Bible,

the FFFR said

. First Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group focusing on religious liberty, had urged the committee to retain the Bible in the Davis School District libraries, saying removal violated constitutional rights and that the Bible had “unquestionable” educational value. “Far from being inappropriate, knowledge of the Bible is actually critical to a students education,”

the Institute wrote in an April letter to the district

. “The Davis School District should not provide students with an incomplete education.”The text was reviewed by one of the districts Sensitive Materials Review Committees,

made up of

an odd number no fewer than seven people, including district staff and parents. On May 22, the committee determined the Bible does not contain sensitive material, as defined by

Utah code

. But the committee also decided to retain the book in school library circulation only at the high school level based on age appropriateness due to vulgarity or violence, according to the districts website.An appeal was filed by an unknown individual on May 31 to keep the book available for all ages. A three-member panel of the Davis School District Board of Education will consider the appeal and issue a recommendation to the Board of Education on whether the book should be restricted, Williams said.The board will have the final say in the matter.The issue of book bans is playing out in public school districts and campus libraries across the United States.In a report published in April, PEN America cited 1,477 instances of books being prohibited during the first half of the 2022-23 academic year, up 28.5% from 1,149 cases in the previous semester. Overall, the organization has recorded more than 4,000 instances of banned books since it started tracking cases in July 2021.Forbidden books are largely by and about people of color and LGBTQ individuals, the group found. Of the books removed in the first half of this school year, 30% are about race, racism or include characters of color, and 26% have LGBTQ characters or themes all at a time when library shelves are becoming more inclusive and representative of society.