The American Library Association’s “State of America’s Libraries” report includes a list of books that have received the most challenges from readers. A challenge is defined by the ALA as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”
Coming in at #6 on the 2015 list is The Holy Bible.
But unlike other “objectionable” books which had either sexually explicit content, such as Fifty Shades of Grey or an LGBT theme, such as Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, The Bible earned this distinction because of its “religious viewpoint.”
Does anybody besides me think that’s really funny?!
Obviously not everyone. On one side are the Christians who have taken this development as proof of the “war on Christianity” and are warning that The Bible is about to be banned.
On the other side are the challengers. But, as Deborah Caldwell Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom, explains: challenges to The Bible are based mainly “on the mistaken perception that separation of church and state means publicly funded institutions are not allowed to spend funds on religious information.”
So I don’t think we have to worry about Bibles being confiscated from library shelves.
Still, I like the idea of challenging The Bible. Why shouldn’t we ask questions of our sacred texts? When were they written? To whom? Where? Why? Especially texts that are problematic: violent, patriarchal, homophobic, xenophobic, those “texts of terror” as Phyllis Trible called some of them.
We should take very seriously our culturally-conditioned responsibility to challenge our scriptures – not to ban them, but to enable the message embedded in them to shine forth through the humanity of its writers.