Utah school district Bible ban reversed after public outcry

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A Utah school district banned the Bible—until public outcry reversed the decision

June 28, 2023 -

People gather during a rally Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Bible-toting parents and Republican lawmakers convened on Utah's Capitol to protest a suburban school district that announced it had removed the Bible from some schools last week. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

People gather during a rally Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Bible-toting parents and Republican lawmakers convened on Utah's Capitol to protest a suburban school district that announced it had removed the Bible from some schools last week. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

People gather during a rally Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Bible-toting parents and Republican lawmakers convened on Utah's Capitol to protest a suburban school district that announced it had removed the Bible from some schools last week. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Following appeals and protests from concerned parents and citizens, a Utah school district has reversed its ban on the Bible in elementary and middle schools.

The Good Book was initially pulled from Davis School District’s shelves after a local parent, frustrated by challenges to books with sexually explicit content in district schools, submitted a complaint to the district’s review board.

The school’s review committee determined that, while the Bible did not qualify as obscene according to the state’s 2022 law—which includes parents in the process of deciding which books are appropriate for students—some passages in the Scriptures contain “vulgarity and violence” unsuitable for young children. The review committee did not say which passages prompted the decision.

Last Wednesday, the school board in Utah unanimously voted to reverse its Bible ban.

All Davis County students will be able to access the Bible in their libraries this year, not just high school students, who retained access to the Scriptures under the committee’s initial decision.

An anonymous parent complaint spurred the Utah school district Bible ban

A copy of the initial complaint obtained by NBC News reveals the anonymous parent’s frustration with efforts to remove books with graphic sexual content. Many of the books challenged over the past few years include LGBTQ themes, leading critics of the bans to characterize them as motivated by homophobia.

Calling the Bible “one of the most sex-ridden books around,” the complainant decried groups of parents who seek the removal of inappropriate material from library shelves, particularly the conservative organization Parents United.

While a similar complaint was filed against the Book of Mormon, the Davis School District’s privacy policy prevents it from revealing whether the same parent who complained about the Bible had challenged the Mormon scriptures.

A war of words

PEN America reported last September that over 2,500 books were removed from libraries during the 2021–2022 school year, a record-setting year for book bans in school libraries. Books were challenged for anything from depictions of nudity to racial slurs, with parents across the political spectrum advocating for more careful consideration of what is presented to young people.

Between the conservative backlash against explicit material in schools and the liberal push against “hate speech,” it is evident that words have power.

Words shape our view of the world and of each other and can be a powerful force for good or for evil. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

In other words, what we say to others matters.

In particular, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit” (Hebrews 4:12). Not only is God’s word powerful, but it is also essential for a Christian’s spiritual health. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

No believer can live without the Bible, making its attempted removal from schools across the country particularly troubling.

“Take heart” and “train up”

However, the initial move to remove the Bible shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Christianity’s influence continues to decline in the United States.

Falling church attendance comes as fewer Americans than ever define themselves as Christians. With opposition on the rise, it is more important than ever for us to hide God’s word in our hearts and in the hearts of our children.

Rather than being discouraged by the removal of the Bible from our schools, we should be motivated to take our own study of Scripture more seriously, especially when it comes to teaching kids about Jesus.

As secular schools neglect and, in some cases, hinder children’s spiritual development, there is a growing need for churches and believing parents to take a more active role in children’s instruction. The words of the very Book challenged in schools today charge us to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Instilling a love for the Bible in children’s hearts is one of the greatest gifts the church can give to young people and one of the most important.

Above all, as we face challenges to our faith in the public sphere, Christians should take heart (John 16:33), never allowing ourselves to be discouraged by secular opposition to Scripture.

Jesus reminds us in John 15:18 that “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Resistance to the gospel is nothing new, and God’s living, active word cannot be bound by mere human restrictions. He can—and will—use all things meant for evil for good.

As long as the Bible is treasured in our hearts, its restriction by secular powers will never prevent its saving message from reaching the souls of the lost and broken.

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