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Florida activist seeks to ban Bible from schools for being too ‘woke’

Activist argues the Bible covers topics such as slavery, abuse and racism, qualifying it to be banned

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar,Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 26 April 2022 21:35 BST
Trump holds up bible outside Washington church

A complaint has been filed with at least eight school districts in Florida to ban the Bible, arguing that the holy book’s contents fall under topics “prohibited” by a controversial new state law.

Governor Ron DeSantis last Friday signed new guidelines of the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) or the Stop WOKE Act that had become law last month.

The law aims to limit discussions in businesses and schools around Critical Race Theory, which Mr DeSantis called a “pernicious” ideology.

The legislation prohibits instruction that suggests members of one race are inherently racist and a person’s social status as privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by their race.

Activist Chaz Stevens, citing House Bill 1467 which allows members of the public to challenge and ban books that are part of school classrooms and libraries, asked school districts to ban the Bible and “any book that references to the Bible”.

He said that the religious book contains subjects pertaining to slavery, racism and rape, thus qualifying it to be banned under the legislation.

“If they’re gonna ban books, then the whole library should be in play. My hope — and it’s a longshot — is that they will apply their own standards to themselves and ban the Bible,” Mr Stevens told The Miami New Times.

The activist cited age inappropriateness, “wokeness”, social-emotional learning, bestiality, killing children and rape as seven reasons to ban the Bible.

In his letter to the school districts, he said each of the topics is supported by a corresponding excerpt from the Bible.

“I wish to file such an objection, requesting the Miami-Dade County Public School system immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material,” Mr Stevens wrote in his letter.

“And, as is often the case with banned books, I ask your agency lay flame to that giant stack of fiction in a pyre worthy of a Viking sendoff,” it read.

“With the constant babbling concerns about teaching Critical Race Theory, should we not take stock of the Bible’s position on slavery? I am concerned our young white students will read such passages and wake up to civilization’s sordid past,” Mr Stevens added.

He objected to the idea that the Bible was an age appropriate book, noting its inclusion of stories about murder, adultery, sexual immorality and fornication.

“Do we really want to teach our youth about drunken orgies,” he argued.

He also pointed out that the Bible includes stories that involve rape, beastiality, cannibalism and infanticide.

The Bible is full of stories that – if found in any other book – would no doubt raise the ire of conservative parents. King David spies on Bathsehba bathing before committing adultery with her and sending her husband off to die in battle to hide his sin.

Song of Solomon is essentially just a book filled with sexually explicit letters between lovers. In Genesis Lot gives shelter to two angels, but the men of the village surround his house and demand they let them rape them. He offers up his daughters to the crowd instead before the angels blind everyone and God destroys the city.

In 2 Kings, the prophet Elisha is mocked by children calling him bald, so he calls on bears to maul 42 of them them to death.

“In the end, if Jimmy and Susie are curious about any of the above, they can do what everyone else does – get a room at the Motel Six and grab the Gideons,” he wrote.

He told NPR that he filed the petition to call out the hypocrisy of the conservative leaders and parents.

“If you want to teach morality and ethics, do you really want to turn to a book that wants you to dash babies against rocks?” he told NPR. “My job is merely to turn hypocrisy on itself and let the bureaucrats each other for lunch.”

He said he has yet to hear back from any school districts, but anticipates he will be successful in his mission.

“My activism in the past has been wildly successful,” he said. “And, I imagine, will continue on a similar trajectory.”

The Stop WOKE law comes after Florida passed what has been dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, barring classroom discussions surrounding sexuality and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade.

Since July 2021, over 200 books, mostly covering gender, race and sexuality have been banned in different Florida school districts.

Critics have raised concerns over the Republican governor’s bid to introduce arbitrary laws to systematically attack Florida's education system.

Democrat Lauren Book said Florida had become similar to “places like Russia and China, modern-day examples of what happens when free thought and free speech are tightly restricted in all levels of society, including in school.”

Recently, 54 math textbooks from the curriculum were rejected for allegedly containing topics such as “Critical Race Theory”.

Mr DeSantis’ focus on culture war issues involving race and gender, however, has made him one of the most popular Republican leaders in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

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