America had a good run as a relatively Christian nation, but last year it officially crossed the symbolic line into Bible-bashing secular society.
That’s the religious takeaway from the American Library Association’s annual list of the most frequently challenged books in schools and libraries. The Holy Bible came in at No. 6 on the list, the first time it has made Top 10.
That puts the Bible in the company of books that promote homosexuality (Two Boys Kissing, No. 10) and sexual deviancy (Fifty Shades of Grey, No. 2), among others. The prophetic words of Isaiah still ring true today: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).
Historically speaking, attacks on the Bible have been the product of secular communism (Soviet Union, North Korea), religious nationalism (Saudi Arabia) or military oppression (Burma). The Bible wasn’t on the ALA’s top 100 in the 1990s or the 2000s, and it’s not among the ranks of challenged classics.
But now, in a country founded in part as a haven of religious liberty, God’s Word is an increasingly popular target because of its “religious viewpoint.”
James LaRue, who heads the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, told the Associated Press that some people try to ban the Bible in retaliation for Christians attacking other books. The root cause of the hostility is more predictable, however.
“You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of church and state,” LaRue said.
That is the same driving force behind long-running attacks on public prayer, the Ten Commandments, the motto “in God we trust” and the phrase “under God.” It’s just that today the animosity has reached such a fever pitch that opponents of Christianity are brazenly going straight for the Bible.
The sudden surge in efforts to ban the Bible from schools and libraries shouldn’t be overblown. Americans can still access the truth in many translations and languages, online and offline. We can study it thoroughly in public and in private to find purpose in our own lives, and we can share it freely with others.
But the fact that so many people are determined to keep the Bible off even a few bookshelves is worrisome. There is no similar movement, whether organized or ad hoc, to keep the Quran or other religious texts out of schools and libraries. This trend is a rejection of one faith alone – the “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5).
As a nation, we’ve come a long way since the days of John Adams, who recognized the Bible as “the best book in the world.” We’re just moving in the wrong direction.