by Jorge Gomez • 4 min read
The Davis School District in Utah just announced that it reversed its prior decision to remove Bible from its middle and elementary school libraries, Fox News reports.
At a board meeting on Tuesday, the school district—which educates 72,000 students north of Salt Lake City—determined the texts were appropriate for students and will now be available in all district libraries. The reversal comes after 70 community members appealed last month’s decision to ban the Bible over others who claimed it was not “age-appropriate.”
Earlier this year, the school district received a complaint from a parent to remove the Bible, claiming it is “sensitive” under the state’s Sensitive Materials in Schools law. The parent’s complaint referred to the religious text as “pornographic” and having “no serious value for minors.”
“The Board of Education of the Davis School District voted unanimously this evening to allow The Bible to be included in school libraries at all levels (elementary, junior high, and high school) – reversing a previous committee-based decision which restricted inclusion of The Bible to high school libraries only,” the committee wrote in a decision published along with school board materials.
“Based on their assessment of community standards, the appeal committee determined that The Bible has significant, serious value for minors,” the statement added.
First Liberty sent a letter to the school district in April informing members that it is reasonable and legal to keep the Bible in the school district’s libraries. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. First Liberty attorney Keisha Russell explained:
“The serious educational value of the Bible to secondary students is unquestionable. Far from being inappropriate, many studies have shown that knowledge of the Bible is actually critical to a student’s education. Importantly, it is also illegal for the school district to display hostility toward any particular religion or religious text. The school district must adhere to the law.”
Our attorneys reminded the school district to act in accordance with the Constitution. The First Amendment prohibits a school district from acting in a hostile manner toward a specific religious belief. We also pointed to the school district’s policies, which state that teachers, administrators and other school employees must be neutral toward religion when acting in their official capacities. Our letter read:
“Consistent with Constitution and district policies, Davis School District libraries have copies of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Torah, and the Quran available to check out…Removal of exclusively the Christian Bible for passages of scripture that appear in other religions holy books is unconstitutional hostility toward Christianity that the Constitution does not tolerate.”
Censoring religious speech and perspectives betrays our nation’s founding principles. Not only is it potentially unconstitutional to ban religious books, but it’s also a disservice to our students. America’s schools should be places that encourage intellectual discourse and honest, open dialogue.
We commend the Davis School District for following the law. Keeping the Bible on library shelves and available to its students is a win for religious freedom. School district officials did the right thing to help ensure its students receive a complete education.