Bible removed from elementary and middle schools in Utah district

A closeup of the Bible lying on top of another book
Copies of the Bible have been removed, at least temporarily, from school library shelves at elementary and junior high facilities in Davis County, Utah.
(Philip Fong / AFP/Getty Images)

The Bible has been removed from elementary and middle school shelves in a Utah school district after a parent filed a complaint under the state’s new law prohibiting “pornographic or indecent” material in schools.

But the decision is being appealed, a district spokesperson said.

The battle is playing out in the Davis School District in northern Utah after a parent filed a complaint last year claiming the Bible is pornographic and requesting it be restricted under a state law enacted last year to prohibit such material in schools and their libraries.


A review committee for the district evaluated the King James Version of the Bible in its entirety and ruled last month that it did not contain sensitive material as defined by law. Still, the committee decided to restrict access to young children “because of vulgarity or violence,” said Christopher Williams, a district spokesperson.

The Bible had been on the shelves in about seven to eight elementary and junior high schools in the district. School is out of session until August, and the decision was appealed days after the committee’s ruling, Williams said.

The Bible remains available to high school students in the district, Williams said.

There have been more than 100 instances of book bans in Utah, one of five states where restricting access to books is most prevalent due to state law and policy, according to the nonprofit free speech group PEN America. In 2022, Utah enacted a law to ban any book from libraries and classrooms that contains content that is deemed harmful to minors, pornographic or indecent as defined by law.

Following guidance from the state attorney general’s office, school districts across Utah rushed to restrict access to books. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison; “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” by Erika Sánchez; and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood, are among the most frequently targeted.

The Bible came under scrutiny in December when an unknown parent, irked by the number of books disappearing from school settings, requested the Bible be reviewed by the district’s committee for its purported extreme sexual content, according to local news reports.


Parents, as well as students, guardians, district employees and board members can challenge books, Williams said. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a copy of the request in which the unknown parent wrote that the Bible contains topics of “incest, onanism, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, fellatio, dildos, rape, and even infanticide.”

“You’ll no doubt find that the Bible, under Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-1227, has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition,” the parent wrote, referring to the state law.

The nonprofit Freedom From Religion Foundation supported the parent, despite the group’s overall opposition to banning books.

“This is one of these cases where the book banners have to be careful what they wish for because they can’t have their cake and eat it too,” foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said. “They can’t ban X-rated material and not include the Bible.”