After a Colorado Springs school district banned several books, one parent is requesting they pull the Bible, too

Bible Ban Utah Schools
Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
A Bible is seen on a chair in the House chamber in Washington, Jan. 6, 2023.

The Bible should be removed from a school district’s libraries because of its explicit and inappropriate sexual and violent content, according to a parent in the Academy 20 district in Colorado Springs. 

Backed by the national Freedom From Religion Foundation, parent Rob Rogers made the request after El Paso County’s largest school district banned several books at the request of a local conservative anti-LGBTQ group.

“Never did I envision advocating for the removal of books, but the lopsided approach we're witnessing is more than just a little disconcerting,” Rogers wrote in a letter to the district. “This isn't about the books. It's about the principle. It's about ensuring fairness and equity. When books by brilliant authors are being removed based on subjective 'standards', the rule should apply to all.”

School book bans have ramped up in several states as certain groups of parents target LGBTQ-themed books and books with sexual content.

The American Library Association has recorded more than 1,200 challenges in 2022, the highest number since it began keeping data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago.

The Bible made the association’s list of most challenged books in 2015, but that’s been the only year so far.

Rogers cited several versions of the Holy Bible, including the King James and Revised Standard versions, that are housed in several district schools.

“These texts contain passages that could potentially be deemed explicit and therefore unsuitable for a minor audience.” 

He cited excerpts from the Bible that describe incest, incest and rape, promiscuity, gang rape, obscenity, infidelity, and abortion.

Academy District 20 was unable to respond by the deadline but said it will provide further comment as soon as possible.

A parent group has worked this year to remove several books in the district

This spring, a parent group called “Advocates for D20 Kids” demanded books be removed from school libraries for sexually explicit content. The group claimed the books met the legal definition for obscenity, according to a story in the Colorado Times Recorder.

The ACLU of Colorado disputes those claims.

The issue of book banning has consumed hours of public testimony at school board meetings. That sparked counter-protests in Academy 20 made up of other parents and community members. In an email requesting the removal of three books, the group of parents wrote, “This is just the tip of the iceberg as there are numerous obscene books in D20 school libraries.”

In early May, the district’s superintendent authorized principals to remove three books: “Push” by Sapphire, “Identical” by Ellen Hopkins, and “Lucky” by Rachel Vail. The books have been at the center of censorship controversies across the country. In an email obtained by the paper, the superintendent confirmed that the books have been physically removed from most school libraries.

Following the removal of those books, Rogers said he wanted the district to act in a consistent and fair manner in reviewing books in schools, including the Bible. Failing to handle all materials in a consistent way could be perceived as “viewpoint discrimination” that violates the First Amendment.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has long called for removing the Bible from school libraries

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is committed to the separation of state and church, said all versions of the Bible should be purged from school libraries using the same criteria that the books were banned.

It says the Bible is full of verses that “display a lewd, depraved, pornographic view of sex and women, with sexual violence often ordered or countenanced by the biblical deity” that are not appropriate for children.

“​​The district cannot ban books because it disagrees with the viewpoint expressed while allowing other inappropriate books because it supports their viewpoint,” foundation staff attorney Chris Line wrote in a letter to the district.

Jenny Brundin/CPR News
One of the sections of the Bible highlighted in the complaint to the Academy 20 District in Colorado Springs.

It points to passages in the Bible where victims are forced to marry their rapists, “graphic sexual depictions, and countless references to sperm, intercourse, menstruation, homosexuality, bestiality, adultery and “harlots and whores.”

The organization has also called for banning the bible and Book of Mormon in Utah.

It’s unclear whether Academy 20 policy allows principals to remove books from school libraries or whether the district has responded to Rogers or the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s request.