When people are sworn into public office, they commonly place their hand on a Bible and promise to faithfully execute the duties of that office. Courts used the same book for swearing in witnesses. Recently, some have substituted other books for the Bible. In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on December 4, 2023, Karen Smith, the new school board president, took the oath of office with her hand placed on top of six books frequently challenged or banned from school libraries. What book do you swear by?
Deciding what books are appropriate for school libraries is a nation-wide issue. If school libraries are open to all students, is there an age level where a book is inappropriate? For example, the book Beyond Magenta promotes transgender lifestyle for teens and is one of the books Smith used for her swearing-in. Another is The Bluest Eye, with graphic depictions of a nine-year-old girl being sexually abused by her father. The book Night by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel accurately depicts his experience in a concentration camp, but is it appropriate reading for a second grader?
What book do you swear by? The fact that people are replacing the Bible with other religious books or books promoting atheism and alternate lifestyles is a reflection of American culture today. As society vilifies Christianity and religious belief, the choices of public officials become more secular. Churches, religious colleges, and universities are being forced to close their doors or give up their moral teachings. Public school restrooms must be open to all sexual orientations. As a retired public school high school teacher, I can only imagine the problems schools will face with the new standards.
— John N. Clayton © 2023