Christian Book Banning Begins—Where Do We Go From Here?

school library
A California charter school reportedly removed books with a Christian message, authored by Christians or published by a Christian publishing company from its library [photo for illustration purposes only]. (Wonderlane/Flickr/Creative Commons)

It was nothing short of a Christian purging.

That's how the Pacific Justice Institute described what happened at a California charter school. They allege the school removed any book from its library that was either written by a Christian author or had a Christian message.

"It is alarming that a school library would attempt to purge books from religious authors," said Brad Dacus, president of the religious advocacy group. "Indeed, some of the greatest literature of Western Civilization comes from religious authors. Are they going to ban the sermons or speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?"

A parent, who was visiting the Temecula campus of the Springs Charter Schools, discovered the library  purging last month.

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"She was told by one of the library attendants that the library has been instructed to remove all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company," read a letter PJI sent to the charter school. "The attendant advised that the library would no longer be carrying those books. Indeed, our client was told that the library was giving those books away, and she actually took some."

One of the books deemed unacceptable was The Hiding Place, the biography of Corrie ten Boom. Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Holocaust. She was later imprisoned by the Germans for her actions.

"This is a major sweep by this charter school to eliminate the religious viewpoint," Dacus told me. "Libraries cannot engage in an open purging of books simply because they are of a Christian perspective."

Dacus said the charter school must reverse "their ill-conceived and illegal book-banning policy." If they fail to do so, he said they are prepared to take further legal action.

So is the charter school really banning books? Well, yes—according to Kathleen Hermsmeyer, the charter school's superintendent.

"We are a public school, and as such, we are barred by law from purchasing sectarian curriculum materials with state funds," she wrote in a letter to the Pacific Justice Institute. "We only keep on our shelves the books that we are authorized to purchase with public funds."

Hermsmeyer wrote that the charter school primarily caters to a home-schooling crowd.

"In order to help provide curricular choices to our families, we allow home-school parents to borrow or purchase a wide array of secular textbooks and other educational materials," she said.

She said there have been occasions when parents donated books or materials to the library. Those books are placed on a rolling cart to be given away.

So that still doesn't explain why Christian-themed books were confiscated.

"We do not purchase sectarian educational materials and do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves," she wrote.

Well, that certainly explains a lot. Religious-themed books are not even allowed to sit on the shelves.

The superintendent denied they were discriminating against Christian authors or publishing companies—so to speak. Check this out:

"At no time, however, have we discriminated against Christian authors or publishing companies who create secular educational materials," she wrote.

Heaven forbid the children find a Bible in the library.

When it comes to books, I'm a purist. I don't believe in book banning. If you find a book objectionable, don't read it. I also believe parents have a right to determine which books their children should read.

The way I see it: If we start banning any old book, one day they might try to ban the Good Book.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America.

 

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