In case you missed it, be sure to check out the fine op-ed that Mick Scott of the Winston-Salem Journal contributed to his paper and its Greensboro News & Record twin over the weekend.
The subject: schoolbook censorship, including the temporary decision of a Texas district to pull The Bible from school library shelves.
As Scott notes, the decision to pull The Bible didn’t last long and was likely the results of an effort by an insightful parent trying to make a point, but it was a very good point.
To read the Bible for one’s self is to discover a complex collection of writings that include sublime poetry, thunderous prophetic visions and pensive philosophy.
But it also includes episodes that never make it to Sunday school — especially not in classes for children. There are too many depictions of depravity: rape, murder and incest; whoring and thievery; endless human exploitation; body dismemberment, bloodthirsty revenge and torture. To seek child-like wholesomeness from the Bible one must wrestle with a God who says, “Thou shalt not murder” — except for witches, disobedient children, fidgeters who work on Saturday and foreigners who live on land that God wants you to have. Murder them.
It’s to deal with phrases like “genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse” and the nature and personality of King Saul’s son Jonathan, whose love for the shepherd David “surpassed the love of women.” It’s to wonder why, when the Israelites conquered new lands, God instructed them to kill everyone except the young virgins, whom they were to keep for themselves.
In other words, The Bible contains plenty of the very same things that ill-informed voices on the political right cite so regularly in attempting to justify their efforts to remove other important works of literature. As he notes:
State legislative proposals to restrict the freedom to teach and learn have increased by 250% in 2022 compared to 2021, according to a report released last week by PEN America. Some 60% of the bills focus on race and LGBTQ issues in K-12 education.
Those books challenge conservatives’ vision of a straight, white-majority Christian America.
The bottom line: Whoever helped spur the temporary Bible censorship made an excellent and important point. To head down this route — especially in this era in which so many children have all manner of material at their fingertips 24 hours a day — is preposterous, futile and counterproductive.
As Scott rightfully notes in conclusion:
Children will be drawn to what they need to know. That may include books that explain racism or transgenderism. With mental health challenges reaching epidemic levels among teens, such books could save their lives.
Such books could also save them from the oppressive directives of religious zealots who seek to restrict their knowledge — and their freedom.
Amen to that. Click here to read the entire op-ed.