The first book I can recall Mama ever reading to us was the Bible. Brother John and I would sit at the dining room table, our toddler feet hanging off the edges. It was at that table in that house on Morris Road in Columbus, Georgia, that I first heard the story of Noah’s Ark and the promise of a rainbow. It was there that I first heard the tale of Moses and the lost people of Israel and how the sea split into a roadway. And it was from my mother’s readings that I first learned of a tiny baby named Jesus born in a stinky barn because nobody would offer a clean bed to his suffering mama.
Those readings were my first introduction to the art of story. Fantastical stories full of drama and heart. I believe it was at the kitchen table that I first fell in love with literature and lore.
Throughout my growing up years, the Bible was the primary reading source in the home of all my kin. It was the only book I believe my grandmothers ever read. Literacy was a luxury among Appalachian hill-folk, a luxury my grands could ill-afford. Condensed Readers Digest were the only other books I recall seeing in Granny and Pap’s home. I don’t recall seeing anything other than the Bible in my Granny Ruth and Grandpa Harve’s home.
The stories of the Bible are the fibers which fashion the design of who I am today.
But if it were left up to Governor Ron DeSantis or the Tennessee State Legislature or any number of political grubbers vying for power in this era, the Bible would have to be included on the Banned Books reading list.
DeSantis wants to ban books that he and his ilk deem inappropriate, those sexually graphic or violent, or those that deal with identity of gender or race. DeSantis doesn’t seem to know his Bible all that well, because under such guidelines, the Bible should be excluded from primary and high schools throughout the country.
Does DeSantis or Abbott know that the Bible talks of oral sex, of rape, of sexual assaults, of orgies, of illicit affairs, of incest, of prostitution, of murder and genocide?
Would DeSantis and others be okay with a lesson on how Lot’s daughters got him drunk so that they could sexually assault him, in order to become pregnant by their own father? The sisters’s plan worked.
What about a lesson on how Ammon raped his half-sister Tamar? And ended up murdered due to that rape? (So it seems God does condone killing in cases of rape, SCOTUS).
Or how David (a man after God’s own heart) raped Bathsheba and then ordered her husband murdered?
I don’t know how much of the Bible DeSantis or Marjorie Taylor Greene or Governor Abbott, or anyone in the state legislators banning books have actually read. They might be shocked to know how much fucking is actually at the center of many of the stories of the Bible. (Although, MTG has her own well documented history of fucking men who aren’t her husband, while a married woman and a mother.)
There is more explicit fucking in the Bible than in Judy Blume’s Forever, which Florida has already banned.
Of course stories of rampant sex aren’t the only reason why the Bible should be on the banned book list for all schools.
The Bible is full of violence. More violence even than one might find in The Outsiders or The Hate You Give.
Of course, I can understand why DeSantis would want books that include child abuse banned. His state has one of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the nation, second only to … yep, you guessed it… Governor Abbott’s backyard … Texas.
Genocide. Premeditated murder. Patricide. Infanticide.
It’s all there. In the Bible.
Can you imagine a 4th grader reading about how King Herod ordered the slaughter of every boy aged 2 and under? A slaughter more horrific than that which we witnessed at Uvalde. Good luck with dealing with those gender-based questions prompted by Herod’s order.
DeSantis and Abbott claim that banning books is necessary because educators are using book to “indoctrinate” students.
But if they were truly concerned about students being indoctrinated, shouldn’t the first book they ban be the Bible?
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Christian Bend: A Novel, Mercer University Press.