A number of schools in a Utah district removed the King James Version of the Bible from some library bookshelves after a parent frustrated by efforts to ban materials from schools convinced a committee the Good Book contained “vulgar” or “violent” content for younger children, officials said Friday.
The Davis School District—a public system with about 72,000 students—has largely pulled the Bible from its elementary and middle schools, but has decided to keep the book in circulation in high school libraries.
In a copy of the parent’s complaint reviewed by NBC News, they said their effort to ban the Bible was in protest against a 2022 state law that made it easier to remove “pornographic or indecent” content from schools.
“I thank the Utah Legislature and Utah Parents United for making this bad faith process so much easier and way more efficient,” the parent said in the complaint. “Now we can all ban books and you don’t even need to read them or be accurate about it. Heck, you don’t even need to see the book!”
The parent, whose identity is redacted in the complaint, expressed concern in an eight-page list that the religious text contains objectionable verses about incest, prostitution, and rape.
“Incest, onanism, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, fellatio, dildos, rape, and even infanticide,” the parent wrote. “You’ll no doubt find that the Bible, under Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-1227, has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition.”
The parent’s challenge to the school board was first reported in March. As per the Utah Code, indecent content includes explicit sexual arousal, stimulation, masturbation, intercourse, sodomy, or fondling, according to Justia.
Christopher Williams, a Davis School District spokesperson, said the decision to remove the Bible will take immediate effect, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The review committee—which is made up of teachers, parents, and administrators in the largely conservative community—determined the Bible didn’t qualify under Utah’s definition of what’s pornographic or indecent, which is why it will remain in high schools, Williams said. The committee can make its own decisions under the 2022 state law and has applied different standards based on students’ ages in response to multiple challenges, he added.
The committee published its decision about the Bible in an online database of review requests and did not elaborate on its reasoning or which passages it found overly violent or vulgar.
Meanwhile, an unnamed party appealed the committee’s decision on Wednesday, Williams said. The matter will be discussed by a three-member committee of the district’s Board of Education before the full panel finally decides. Should the panel decide the Bible is appropriate, then the book will be returned to schools in the district.
Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, a Republican who sponsored the state’s book ban bill, criticized the parent’s challenge in March, saying: “It’s a backhanded slap to parents that are simply trying to keep a healthy learning environment for all students in the schools. I have every confidence that no school district is going to consider The Bible as violating 76-10-1227.”
In light of the school district’s determination to limit access to the King James Version of the Bible to high school-aged students, Ivory called upon officials to “immediately and thoroughly review” the age appropriateness of all instructional materials in K-12 schools throughout Utah.
“With this determination, the Davis school district has now set the floor for the standard by which age-appropriate, sensitive, obscene, and indecent materials must immediately be reviewed, and if determined to not be age-appropriate, removed from all schools in the Davis district and throughout the state!” Ivory said in a lengthy statement on Friday.
“By this standard, every material that is equal to, or more violent, sensitive, obscene, indecent, or vulgar, must be removed immediately from all schools in classrooms and libraries throughout the K-12 schools in Utah,” he added.
The school district’s determination comes as concerned parents and conservative activists have descended on school boards and statehouses throughout the United States to sound the alarm about sensitive issues that are being taught in public schools today.
Parents who have pushed for more say in their children’s education and the curriculum and materials available in schools have argued that they should control how their children are taught about sensitive matters such as race and gender.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.