You might have read headlines lately about the Bible being banned in a Texas school district. The truth is a little more complicated – and disturbing.
The Keller Independent School District near Fort Worth pulled more than 40 books from classrooms and school libraries. NPR reported that the yanked titles include a “graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary, all versions of the Bible and numerous books with LGBTQ+ themes or characters.”
So how did the Bible end up on this list? Apparently, the district decided to pull any book that has been challenged within the past year. In some parts of the country, people are lodging challenges against the Bible (which, let’s be honest, does contain a lot of sex and violence) as a way of making a point that censorship is a bad idea.
Keller’s school board, which contains members backed by Patriot Mobile Action, a Christian nationalist political action committee that has ties to the Family Research Council, has directed school officials to review all the challenged books under a set of new criteria established by the board. Books that receive approval will be returned to the system.
So, it’s quite possible that the Bible will receive approval while the adaption of Anne Frank’s diary and the LGBTQ books won’t. This has alarmed some parents in the district, as it should.
The Keller district is not alone here. The Washington Post reported recently on a wave of censorship schemes that are afflicting public schools all over America. Post stories are often behind a paywall, but this sentence gives the gist of the piece: “The start of the 2022-2023 school year will usher in a new era of education in some parts of America – one in which school librarians have less freedom to choose books and schoolchildren less ability to read books they find intriguing, experts say.”
The Christian nationalists behind these schemes say they’re supporting parental rights. What they’re really trying to do is purge books that don’t align with their religious or political beliefs from schools and libraries so no one’s children can read them. Usually, these books have LGBTQ or race-related themes, but these groups aren’t above attacking tomes for other reasons. When the Harry Potter books became popular in the late 1990s, some fundamentalists assailed them for promoting “witchcraft.”
“This is a state-sponsored purging of ideas and identities that has no precedent in the United States of America,” John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, told The Post. “We’re witnessing the silencing of stories and the suppressing of information [that will make] the next generation less able to function in society.”
Indeed. The only thing Christian nationalists are trying to “protect” children from is the freedom to explore the world around them. Will they get away with it? Not if enough Americans who value the right to learn speak up and say, “Enough!”