A school district in the US state of Utah has removed the Bible from elementary and middle schools for containing “vulgarity and violence”.
The move follows a complaint from a parent that the King James Bible has material unsuitable for children.
Utah’s Republican government passed a law in 2022 banning “pornographic or indecent” books from schools.
Most of the books that have been banned so far pertain to topics such as sexual orientation and identity.
The banning of the Bible comes amid a larger effort by US conservatives in states to ban teachings on controversial topics such as LGBT rights and racial identity. Bans on certain books deemed offensive are also in place in Texas, Florida, Missouri and South Carolina. Some liberal states have also banned books in some schools and libraries, citing perceived racially offensive content.
The Utah decision was made this week by the Davis School District north of Salt Lake City after a complaint filed in December 2022. Officials say they have already removed the seven or eight copies of the Bible they had on their shelves, noting that the text was never part of students’ curriculum.
The committee did not elaborate on its reasoning or which passages contained “vulgarity or violence”.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper, the parent who complained said the King James Bible “has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition”, referring to the 2022 book-ban law.
The Utah state lawmaker who wrote the 2022 law had previously dismissed the Bible removal request as a “mockery”, but changed course this week after calling it a “challenging read” for younger children.
“Traditionally, in America, the Bible is best taught, and best understood, in the home, and around the hearth, as a family,” Ken Ivory wrote on Facebook.
The district’s ruling determined that the Bible’s content does not violate the 2022 law, but does include “vulgarity or violence not suitable for younger students”. The book will remain in place in local high schools.
Bob Johnson, the father of a primary school student in the Davis School District, told CBS News that he opposes the Bible’s removal.
“I can’t think of what’s in the Bible that you would have to take out of it. It’s not like there’s pictures in it,” he said.
The district is not the first in the US to remove the Bible from its shelves.
A Texas school district last year pulled the Bible from library shelves after complaints from members of the public opposed to conservatives efforts to ban some books.
Last month, students in Kansas requested to have the Bible removed from their school library. (BBC)