• May 26, 2024

Florida School District Unanimously Votes to Keep Bible in Libraries

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Florida’s second largest school district voted unanimously on Wednesday to keep the Bible in its school libraries after an atheist challenged the Bible as being “too sensitive or controversial for a typical classroom setting.” The vote was made by the 9-member panel of the Broward County School District Superintendent Review Committee, formed last year as part of a Florida state law that allows local residents to challenge books in school libraries. Atheist Chaz Stevens is the activist who filed the complaint and has sent 62 requests to Florida superintendents to ban the Bible. He did not attend the Wednesday vote but stated the outcome “was completely expected.” He intends to appeal the decision. “I’ll get my three minutes to quote chapter and verse,” he told The Sun Sentinel, saying that the Bible describes events such as incest and rape. “What’s the cultural or literary value of teaching about drunken orgies to those in third grade?” he asked.

Stevens told Fox News he filed the complaint as a way of highlighting the hypocrisy of conservative groups like Moms for Liberty, which has challenged numerous books in Florida schools since the passing of the law. Corie Pinero, a leader in the Broward chapter of Moms for Liberty, attended the meeting and passionately defended the Bible in schools. “The Bible does not violate state law. It’s not graphic at all. It’s actually very tame compared to a lot of the books that are in Broward County schools right now,” she argued. The meeting had other protestors attending, holding signs in support of the Bible’s inclusion in school libraries, with signs such as “Don’t Tread on Religious Liberty.” One member of the committee, retired district librarian Elaine Aaron, stated the Bible has cultural value. “It is important for world studies. I believe the Bible should be on the shelf. I also think the Torah and Quran should on shelves as well, especially in high schools. Students need the materials to make their own decisions,” she said.

Moms for Liberty has successfully had a number of books removed from school libraries or moved to restricted areas to keep them out of reach of younger students. One such book that was successfully removed is It’s Perfectly Normal, a sex education book that markets itself for children 10 and up. The book was challenged due to what Moms for Liberty called its graphic images and information. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, posted a number of images and graphic descriptions found in the book to X. The book has also been updated to include information about gender identity. Additional images can be found here (warning for graphic images).

The Bible has faced similar challenges in states with similar laws, such as Utah. The Bible was briefly removed from elementary and middle school library shelves in a northern Utah school district after a complaint about it being “one of the most sex-ridden books around.” The decision was appealed by 70 Utah residents and the ban was successfully overturned. The appeals committee determined that that Bible’s “serious value” was stronger than any content concerns, writing, “Based on their assessment of community standards, the appeal committee determined that The Bible has significant, serious value for minors which outweighs the violent or vulgar content it contains.”

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