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The Bible, among the most challenged books

According to the American Library Association its appearance on the 'black list' is due to “its religious viewpoint.”

SOURCES Premier Christianity, Agencies AUTHOR Evangelical Focus UNITED STATES 14 APRIL 2016 15:59 h GMT+1
bible, kid, library Photo: Unsplash.

The American Library Association (ALA) has revealed that the Bible is among the books most often challenged and called to be banned in US libraries and schools, on grounds of “the sex and violence it contains, and mostly for the legal issues it raises.”

The association states that “users object to its presence in libraries and schools over its religious viewpoint”. It is the first appearance on the list for the Bible, using records back to 2001.

The ALA bases its list on news reports and on accounts submitted from libraries, and defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."



According to the association, "the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books list should be seen as a snapshot of the reports the Office for Intellectual Freedom receives and not an exhaustive report."

They explain that "surveys indicate up to 85 percent of book challenges receive no media attention and remain unreported.”

"You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it's a violation of church and state", says James LaRue, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the ALA.

"Sometimes there's a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible", he adds.

Guidelines for the Office for Intellectual Freedom note that the Bible "does not violate the separation of church and state as long as the library does not endorse or promote the views included in the Bible."


The ALA bases its list on accounts submitted from libraries.



The Bible ranks 6th on a list topped by John Green's "Looking for Alaska", which has been cited for "offensive language" and sexual content. The runner-up, challenged for obvious reasons, was E.L. James' romance "Fifty Shades of Grey."

LaRue emphasises that the library association does not oppose having Bibles in public schools.

ALA also “favours including a wide range of religious materials, from the Quran to the Bhagavad Gita to the Book of Mormon”. The director confirms that “the association does hear of complaints about the Quran, but fewer than for the Bible.”



Ernie Seibert from United Bible Societies, told Premier News the Bible needs to be better-understood: "Christians should offer the Bible to people so that people can read and change their minds about it.”

"The Bible is really a library, it's more than 60 books and has different styles and different ways to be read."

He went on: "Sometimes it's an issue of interpretation, people can make a fundamental mistake reading the Bible and many people that critique the Bible they use a simplistic way of reading the Bible."



Just 275 incidents were compiled by the ALA, down from 311 the year before and one of the lowest on record.


Looking for Alaska of John Green ranks one on the list.

The ALA has long believed that for every challenge brought to its attention, four or five others are not reported. LaRue says the association does not have a number for books actually pulled in 2015.

Challenged works in recent years have ranged from the Harry Potter novels to Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."



Most of the books are objected to because of sexually explicit content, or because of having an LGBT theme.

"I Am Jazz," a transgender picture book by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, is number 3, followed by another transgender story, Susan Kuklin's "Beyond Magenta."

The list also includes Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home," Craig Thompson's "Habibi," Jeanette Winter's "Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan" and David Leviathan's "Two Boys Kissing," with one objection being that it "condones public displays of affection."

"Many of the books deal with issues of diversity", LaRue explains. "And that often leads to challenges."




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