Christian Schools Enforce Ban on Controversial Books, Sparking Debate

Christian Schools Enforce Ban on Controversial Books, Sparking Debate

By Janell Williams

The books in your child’s library are one of the most intense battles in the culture wars today. In a move stirring both debate and discussion, a number of Christian schools in Columbus and across the country have recently implemented bans on certain books deemed controversial by their administrations. This decision has ignited a broader conversation about the balance between educational freedom and institutional values within religious educational institutions.


The banned books encompass a range of titles, from classic literature to contemporary works, with themes spanning sexuality, gender identity, and religious critique. Some common titles removed from school libraries and curriculum lists are acclaimed novels such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, alongside more recent publications like “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas.


According to some administrators at Christian schools, the decision to exclude these books stems from concerns about their content conflicting with the moral and religious principles upheld by the institutions. Many of the banned works have been criticized for their portrayal of themes such as profanity, violence, or sexual content, which some educators argue may not align with the values they seek to instill in their students.


A recent display of these controversies occurred during the 2024 Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl where numerous participating schools chose to be excluded from reading three of the assigned novels. The Reading Bowl made headlines after including books like: “Attack of the Black Rectangles,” a book about censoring sexual materials, “Ellen Outside the Lines,” whose main character is a lesbian and “Too Bright to See,” featuring a transgender boy as the main character.


In a statement addressing the book choices, Quleria Person,  Headmaster of Emanuel Prep School of Math & Science, stated, “We elected not to read those books because they do not align with the Christian values we teach. However, with parents, it is more so whatever you believe as a person or as a Christian, and what you want your child to be exposed to.”


However, the bans have sparked criticism from some students, parents and advocacy groups who argue that restricting access to certain books limits intellectual freedom and stifles critical thinking. They contend that exposure to challenging or controversial ideas is essential to education, fostering empathy, understanding and critical engagement with the world.


In response to the widespread bans, the National Coalition Against Censorship issued a statement condemning the schools’ actions, asserting that “censorship is antithetical to the principles of education and undermines the development of informed and engaged citizens.”


The debate surrounding banning books in Christian schools reflects broader tensions within educational institutions over censorship, academic freedom, and the balance between religious values and secular education. As the conversation continues, educators, parents and students grapple with finding common ground while upholding their respective values and beliefs in an increasingly diverse and complex world.




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