Bible ban in Utah district sparks protests from parents and Republicans

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Republican lawmakers gathered with more than 100 parents and children with Bibles at the Utah Capitol Wednesday to protest a school district's decision to remove the Bible from middle and elementary school libraries following a Party-backed campaign. Republican. Law on “sensitive materials” approved two years ago.

Concerned parents and children holding signs reading "The Bible is the original textbook" and "Eliminate pornography, not the Bible," said they were outraged after the Davis School District announced that a review committee concluded that the Bible was too "violent or vulgar." for Young Children The committee ruled that it did not qualify as obscene or pornographic under the Sensitive Materials Act, but used its own discretion to remove it from libraries below the high school level.

Karlee Vincent, a Davis County mother of three who brings children's Bibles to the rally, said districts could consider banning certain titles with controversial material, but not religious texts like the Bible.

“We love the Bible. We love God. And we need God in our nation,” he said.

The anonymous challenge to the Bible appears to have been presented as a statement to undermine the two-year law, pointing out that the holy text contains cases of incest, prostitution and rape. He derided review procedures as a "bad faith process" and attacked groups that have pushed to remove certain titles from schools, including Parents United and its Utah-based affiliate.

The removal of the Bible is the most high-profile effort to remove a book from a Utah school since the Legislature passed a law requiring school districts to create new avenues for residents to challenge "sensitive materials" and used a legal definition of pornography to define them. It has put a crossroads in front of the defenders of the scrutiny of the materials available in schools. The rejection has also emboldened critics of the book ban, who argue that the anger over the removal of the Bible illustrates an arbitrary and political double standard and the problems inherent in removing books that contain certain content.

“If people are outraged by the Bible ban, they should be outraged by all the books that are being censored,” Kasey Meehan, who runs the Freedom to Read program at the writers' organization PEN America, said last week.

Utah Parents United President Nichole Mason said she was concerned that the attention the Bible ban would bring to Utah would distract from conversations about obscene materials that remain in school libraries. In defense of Utah's sensitive materials law, Mason noted that the committee determined that the Bible did not qualify as pornographic under state statute. She doubled down on her position that Utah should give parents more say in what goes on in their children's schools.

"God bless America that we can challenge any book!" Mason said.

State Rep. Ken Ivory, the Republican sponsor of the sensitive materials bill, rejected the idea that his bill would pave the way for a Bible ban. Although he defended the revision process after the removal of the sacred text, he said Wednesday that the Davis School District had exceeded its role in removing the Bible from middle and elementary schools due to criteria not in the law. state.

He said the criticisms of the review process that led to the Bible ban did not waive the need for parents and administrators to monitor materials in schools.

“Should we have age-appropriate limits for children in school? Almost universally anyone in good faith says 'Yes'. The question is then: what should those limits be? he said.

Ivory urged the Legislature to change the law so that book removal decisions are overseen by elected officials in open public meetings, not the kind of committee that decided to remove the Bible from middle and elementary schools in the Davis School District.

Utah is among a longer list of Republican-led states that in recent years have expanded the ability of residents to challenge the books and curriculum in schools and libraries. Pressured by a growing movement for parental rights, lawmakers from Florida to Wyoming have increasingly scrutinized what books are available, sparking outrage over content related to race, sex and gender in particular. New state laws have given parents additional power to challenge books and expose librarians to potential criminal charges if they provide content deemed "harmful" to minors.

Neither Ivory nor the parents took issue with efforts to remove other books, including race-related and LGBTQ-related titles that account for most book challenges.

Many parents and people of faith at Wednesday's protest said they had heard little about the book ban efforts until news of the removal of the Bible broke last week. They defended the Bible's role as a fundamental text, saying it should not be compared to other books that parents have questioned. They said the committee's decision affirmed a latent distrust of public schools and those who make the decisions that govern them.

“I hope it will be a part of our schools, not only to give information to our minds but also character to our hearts, and the greatest character of all is Jesus Christ,” Tad Callister, former general president of The Church of Jesus Sunday School. Christ of Latter Day Saints, said from the Bible and the Book of Mormon while an audience applauded.

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