Applicant says the text for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “very violent.”
The person seeking the removal of the Book of Mormon from a Utah school district alleges in his lawsuit that the text is “very violent” — it contains “murder, rape and torture” which he says is inappropriate for children.
The exact wording of that complaint was first released by the Davis School District on Friday after the Salt Lake Tribune filed a request for public records. The district previously declined to comment on exactly why the book was being challenged, shortly after Davis decided last week to ban the Bible from elementary and middle schools.
The Book of Mormon is the foundational text of The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the faith believe it was translated from gold plates by Church founder Joseph Smith.
The patron who submitted the book’s request for a review on June 2 said the stories it contains are full of battles, beheadings and kidnappings.
“Nephi cuts off Laban’s head,” and his brothers “keep beating him up,” says the request. “There are also the war chapters of Alma, which describe dead bodies scattered throughout the land. The Nephites and Lamanites torture and murder each other. There is also burning at the stake (Abinadi) and forced cannibalism (Moroni 9).”
The inquiry adds that the Book of Mormon also includes sex and prostitution. “Although this is presented as a sin, it is mentioned nonetheless,” notes the patron. “Furthermore, in Mosiah 20, the Lamanite women are abducted and raped.”
The reviewer then links to an online version of the passage and points to a chapter with a heading describing torture and murder.
“I don’t want my child to read about murder, rape, and torture or to learn that it’s okay to murder someone if God tells them to (Nephi),” explains the applicant.
The school district redacted the applicant’s name, citing the policy that a person requesting a book review “may indicate on the application form that their identity should be kept private.”
The religious text is the latest to be challenged in Davis, which has become the starting point for the fight to ban books under a Utah proceeding passed last year.
The Book of Mormon complaint came just a day after the district’s decision on a previous December motion to ban the King James Version of the Bible. The name of the person who made that request has also been withheld by the district.
A district spokesman declined to clarify whether the requests for verification of religious texts were submitted by the same person or by different people.
The Davis School District has implemented a review board’s recommendation to remove the standard translation of the Bible from elementary and middle schools on the grounds that it contains “vulgarity or violence” and is too mature for this age group of students.
However, it was kept on the school library shelves and other Bible translations were not removed from the lower grades as these were not part of the original challenge.
This decision has already been appealed by a parent who wants the book to be available to all students.
A panel of three members from the district education committee will now consider this and present a recommendation to the full board to appeal for a vote.
In a video shared with parents Thursday, Davis Superintendent Dan Linford asked for patience while that process unfolds.
Linford, first reported by The Standard-Examiner, said in the video: “Many know that I am a believer. And I believe that the Bible is a sacred text. But it would be inappropriate for me to use my position as superintendent to project my own beliefs or opinions on the decision-making process that is still ongoing.”
The message came in response to a rally at the Utah Capitol this week where several religious leaders and Republican lawmakers called for Bible preservation in schools.
Meanwhile, the Book of Mormon challenge is still in its infancy and will be submitted to an initial Parents’ Committee for consideration. It’s listed as a challenge for Kaysville Junior High, but district spokesman Christopher Williams said any decision resulting from a book’s review applies to all schools at that grade and below.
In this case, any decision about the Book of Mormon would apply to all middle and elementary schools in the district.
Grant Hardy, a Latter-day Saint and professor of history and religious studies at the University of North Carolina Asheville, told The Tribune last week that the Book of Mormon “isn’t particularly graphic, but kids tend to be drawn to the graphic parts to feel that it contains.” .”
However, he does not recommend banning it. Hardy urged readers to consider the text—and other religious writings—in context and with nuance.
Both the complaints about the Bible and the Book of Mormon appear to have arisen from the frustration of parents who say they are tired of seeing the books that have been removed from schools at the request of conservative groups. These organizations, including Utah Parents United, have widely targeted texts about the LGBTQ+ community that they believe contain indecent material.
Prompted by these groups, the Utah legislature passed legislation in 2022 that eases the process of contesting books. Parents can now file a complaint about a book they say contains “pornographic or indecent material”.
The patron, who requested a review of the Bible, called it “one of the most sex-driven books out there” and said it should be removed if other titles such as Gender Queer – a graphic novel about the author’s journey to self-identity – should be removed – should be removed is removed.
This applicant also included a list of quotations from the Bible, including incest, bestiality, and violence, which he felt were inappropriate and should meet the legal standard for “pornographic or indecent material.”
The committee members who reviewed the complaint concluded that the book did not violate that part of the law. But another part of the state law allows them to limit the age of students who can access a text, and that’s how they came to their decision.
No complaints were made about other religious texts such as the Koran.
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