The Bible made the list of most challenged books for the first time ever in 2015, after parents and others said its presence in public libraries violates the separation of church and state.
Following titles such as “Fifty Shades Of Grey,” the Bible was 6th on the American Library Association’s annual list of most contested books for “religious reasons,” reported the Associated Press. This is the first time the Bible has made the list since the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom started collecting data in 1990.
“You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of church and state,” James LaRue, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told the AP. “And 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.”
LaRue told the AP that the ALA does not oppose allowing Bibles in public schools, and asserted the association actually favors having a wide range of religious materials in libraries. He said, however, the Office for Intellectual Freedom gets more complaints about the Bible than the Quran.
Half of the books on this year’s list were challenged, at least in part, for religious viewpoint. Another book challenged over religious viewpoint is “I Am Jazz,” a picture book by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings based on a true story about a transgender child. Other challenges to the book, which was the third most challenged book of the year, included “homosexuality,” “sex education” and that it was “unsuited for age group.”
Taking the top spot was John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” which made the list for “offensive language,” sexual content and being unsuited for age group. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James was the second most challenged book. One predictable complaint listed was that it is “sexually explicit.” Other reasons were that it is “poorly written” and “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it.”
The goal of the Office for Intellectual Freedom is to “educate about individual censorship efforts and to inform the public that censorship is still a very serious problem,” according to the ALA’s website.
“As a society, considering an ‘index of complaints’ helps us to understand who we are and where we’re going,” LaRue wrote on the ALA’s website. “Cultures change over time, and the things we fear, or celebrate, change with them.”
The list is derived from news stories and challenge reports communities can voluntarily send to the ALA. The Office for Intellectual freedom defines challenges as “documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries, thus restricting access to them by others.”
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