The Bible is among 10 ‘most challenged’ books of 2015

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Allan Hoyle, of North Carolina, stands with bible in hand in support of Kim Davis at the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Kentucky, on September 9, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Chris Tilley
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-CHALLENGED-BOOKS, originally transmitted on April 12, 2016.

Allan Hoyle, of North Carolina, stands with bible in hand in support of Kim Davis at the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Kentucky, on September 9, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Chris Tilley *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-CHALLENGED-BOOKS, originally transmitted on April 12, 2016.

(RNS) What does the Bible have in common with “Fifty Shades of Grey” or one of John Green’s best-selling young adult novels?

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bible made the list of the American Library Association’s 10 most frequently challenged books last year.

The 2015 list was released Monday (April 11) as part of the ALA’s 2016 State of America’s Libraries report. It includes books that have drawn formal, written complaints from the public because of their content or appropriateness, according to the ALA.

The Bible, which came in at No. 6, was challenged for its “religious viewpoint,” the ALA said.

The Christian Scriptures are a “regular” among the complaints forwarded by public libraries and schools to the ALA, according to James LaRue, director of the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. But it’s been seven years since the Bible received enough complaints to make the Top 10 list, LaRue said.

“There’s almost a little retaliatory feel to people speaking up against the Bible because they want to go on record as being opposed to Christian opposition to LGBT (issues) or Christian opposition to Islam,” he said.

But there’s “definitely” a growing number of complaints lodged about books for their “religious viewpoints,” according to the director.

Also challenged for the same reason: “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, a picture book about a transgender child based on Jennings’ experience; “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Susan Kuklin, which follows transgender or gender-neutral teenagers through their personal acknowledgments of gender identity; “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon, a murder-mystery that drew complaints for “profanity and atheism”; and “Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan” by Jeanette Winter, about a young Afghan girl attending school under the Taliban.

That’s half the challenged list, although the ALA says only 291 of the 5,099 complaints it received between 2000 and 2009 were about religious objections. Books were most likely to be challenged in that time for sexually explicit material, offensive language or being unsuitable for the intended age group.

Additionally, 361 complaints were made about “homosexuality,” and 274 about “occult” or “satanic” themes. Another 119 challenges claimed books were “anti-family.”

“I think the value of the Top 10 list is it’s an index of complaints, and so it says, ‘What are the things we fear in our culture?'” LaRue said.

LaRue also noted the “persistent mistaken belief that separation of church and state says that you can’t find a Bible — or really any religious scripture — in a public library or school library, and that’s just wrong.

“I think it’s important for people to understand the job of the library is to provide information and provide access to a number of different views. We’re not endorsing one or trying to tamp down others. We’re just opening our doors and inviting people in to satisfy their curiosity,” he said.

Green’s “Looking for Alaska” topped the 2015 list for the usual reasons: sexually explicit material, offensive language and being considered unsuitable for its intended age group. Others on the list included “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, “Habibi” by Craig Thompson and “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan.

“We strongly encourage everybody to look at these books,” said LaRue. “Read them and think about them and talk about them because this is an opportunity for us to have a conversation about our culture.”

(Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS)

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  • Another commonality is that all 3 are fiction.

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  • ATP

    Bible prophecy accuracy shows the Bible is the Word of God but many
    deny God/Jesus and don’t want the Bible to be true because they don’t
    want to be told how to live. Many so called “Christians” however do not
    live any different from the non-Christian so they talk about homosexuals
    or abortion when people who get drunk,be mean,gossip,gamble,sell sex
    sleep around,covet,do not bridle their sharp tongue go to hell as well/too!
    1 Corinthians 5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-12…1 Peter 4:1-7 plus in Luke 13
    also Matthew 7:13-23 along with Galations 5:12-26 are all great to read.

  • Barry the Baptist

    Blah blah blah blah blah.

    Enough with the assertions. Give us some data! Some logic! Some philosophy! Some analysis! Something that shows us that you’re more than a very well-designed machine spamming Christian sound bites in an utterly robotic way.

    Show us you’re human!

  • ATP

    Barry the Baptist-You are loved by Christ as we all are but only one
    guy next to Jesus on the Cross went to heaven cause only one guy
    Repented so we need to Repent/follow Him. Read Romans 1:18-32.

  • Fran

    The Bible is a very stupendous gift provided by God to his earthly kids, humans. Imagine if God used his heavenly angels to write his thoughts and guidelines in a book for us…how could we possibly relate to anything that is not a human experience, human emotion, problem, or dilemma? No, God chose many imperfect men to be his secretaries throughout its history, even showing human strengths, weaknesses and examples, good and bad, for us to learn from.

    All the faithful myriads and myriads of God’s angels are perfect, don’t make any mistakes, don’t die, and don’t know what it’s like to a human! How could we ever relate to them as imperfect as we are?

    There is nothing in any books authored by any humans that can compare to God’s marvelous written word! It is very sad, indeed, that many still want to censor it.

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  • Diogenes

    This is merely another classic case of attempted censorship of a text that someone is “offended” by. There used to be an objective and commonsensical standard by which rational people could judge texts by whether they were prurient or obscene, but the needle, thanks to our federal court system, has continually moved off center, so that the genuinely obscene is defended and extolled, while the cautionary and circumspect: i.e. the Bible is rejected and condemned. God Help Us.

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  • Re: “Bible prophecy accuracy shows the Bible is the Word of God …”

    Bzzzt! Wrong. Bible prophecy is nonsense. Jesus made a specific, clear prediction, related 3 times in the gospels, which not only has never come true, it cannot ever come true:

    “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt 16:28; cf Mk 9:1 & Lk 9:27)

    All those people to whom Jesus said these words most certainly have “tasted death,” but the Son of Man has yet to “come in his kingdom.”

    “Bible prophecy” is a joke. I know it; you know it; and now everyone else knows it. Stop lying for your Jesus already.

  • ATP

    PsiCop- You need to get your facts straight because Jesus took
    three of His followers up to the mountain to pray where they did
    see Jesus transform… John saw it in a vision before He died the
    kingdom/Jesus coming back in His glory so that’s what it refers to.

  • Re: “You need to get your facts straight because Jesus took
    three of His followers up to the mountain to pray where they did
    see Jesus transform”

    Bzzzt! Wrong. The crowd to whom he spoke — and whom he promised would actually “see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” never witnessed the Transfiguration. Nor did any of them also see John’s “vision.” So neither of those can possibly have been what Jesus was referring to. Nope.

    Enough is enough. Please just stop lying already. And don’t treat my like an idiot: I’m not stupid enough to fall for these phony rationales.

  • Catherine

    The Bible is being placed on this list no-doubt because of all the inaccuracies and tampering that has been discovered in it. People don’t like being lied to or made to believe in them. If Jesus Christ is a compilation of ancient people, making Christian salvation invalid: what can Christians who are losing their religion believe? http://hub.me/akagx

  • ATP

    PsiCop -. God is real so I hope you do some more research on
    Bible prophecy and read the Case for Christ…Romans 1:18-32.