Davis County critic seeks Bible ban in swipe at Utah school library policy
FARMINGTON — Passage of House Bill 374 last year, requiring rigorous new rules to root out “sensitive materials” in public school libraries, has spurred numerous presumably earnest bids targeting literature with content some critics view as overtly sexual.
In the Davis School District, 33 books have been removed from school shelves since last November due to the new policy in that district. Another 32 still face review.
Not everybody, though, is on board with H.B. 374, and one critic is taking aim at the measure, asking that the Bible be banned from Davis School District libraries. It’s among the 32 books the school district’s Sensitive Material Review Committee must still review.
The Standard-Examiner received a copy of the proposal to ban the Bible after making a public-records request. And in an alternately sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and scathing explanation that takes aim at Utah Parents United for the books that organization targets as inappropriate for students, the person noted sexual references in the Bible.
Utah Parents United is a conservative parents organization and its members have expressed support for H.B. 374. The organization’s website links to “LaVerna in the library,” a Facebook page representing “a community of concerned parents” that points out “sexually explicit books” that have been found in school libraries in Utah.
“Utah Parents United left off one of the most sex-ridden books around: The Bible. Incest, onanism, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, fellatio, dildos, rape and even infanticide,” writes the person, who’s name was redacted by Davis School District officials from the documents provided to the Standard-Examiner. “You’ll no doubt find that the Bible, under Utah Code Ann. 76-10-1227 has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition. Get this PORN out of our schools!”
Utah Code 76-10-1227 defines and spells out “pornographic” and “harmful” materials, the sort of content not allowed in Utah schools per H.B. 374.
Whether the sexual references truly worry or offend the person seems questionable based on the wording in the explanation. Rather, by juxtaposing the Bible and the references to sex in its pages with the sort of books that have been pulled under H.B. 374, the person seems to be expressing larger concern with the broader notion of pulling books from libraries. If other books are to be pulled, why not pull the Bible, a sacred book for Christians in a state where religion is central to life for many that, nevertheless, has sexual references?
“If the books that have been banned so far are any indication for way lesser offenses, this should be a slam dunk,” writes the person. The challenge, which included eight pages of passages from the Bible that have sexual references, originated in Davis High School in Kaysville.
Davis School District spokesperson Chris Williams said school officials, when reviewing books, don’t factor what may motivate those asking that they be pulled. “The district doesn’t differentiate between one request and the other. It’s part of the work we do. We simply determine if the book meets the law,” he said.
Students, parents and guardians, school district employees and school board members may submit requests for removal of books in Davis School District, which encompasses the entirety of Davis County. Book review committees contain a mix of parents and school administrators, librarians and teachers.
Nichole Mason of Utah Parents United took issue with the challenge to the Bible. She maintains that “none of the passages” in the book violate the guidelines in Utah Code 76-10-1227.
“Not every reference to sexual activity meets the criteria for removal from a school library,” she said in an email to the Standard-Examiner. She went on: “The guideline is meant to provide a clear standard for what is acceptable for k-12 school libraries. The law is meant to protect children from unrestricted access to explicit sexual content in k-12 schools.”
She referenced the language in Utah Code 76-10-1227 in spelling out the sort of material that would be prohibited in schools per H.B. 374. Out of bounds in school libraries are books with content containing “a description or depiction” of:
- Human genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal.
- Acts of human masturbation, sexual intercourse or sodomy.
- Fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals or pubic region.
The law, as it reads, also excepts certain material that “when taken as a whole, has serious value for minors.” “‘Serious value,'” the law explains, “means having serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors, taking into consideration the ages of all minors who could be exposed to the material.”
In the Davis School District, 11 books that faced challenges were deemed acceptable and will be retained. Five more will be retained but only at the high school level, not in junior high or elementary schools.
Meantime, among the many biblical passages cited by the person challenging the Bible are several that refer to sex, incest, homosexuality and more:
- “Thus both of the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.”
- “… Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine …”
- “… he went in to his brother’s wife.”
- “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.”
- “… the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.”
- “A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.”
- “Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.”
- “Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, though hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.”
- “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.”