Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Religious Freedom?

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series is an example of literature that has been targeted by a religious institution, being criticized and challenged vehemently by the Catholic church for having anti-Christian views. Churches are given many freedoms by the government, and as such are expected to maintain somewhat of a separation from politics [or such is the hope.] When other viewpoints are brought up in public places, such as libraries, however, these same religious institutions expect special treatment, having whatever they ask for removed from the shelves, but making sure none of their own material ever gets touched. In regards to Christian vs. other literature, a librarian I was speaking with had this to say: "I also have Christian fiction in my library. I'm hoping that if anyone ever does challenge the GLBTQ books, I can pull out my Christian fiction and point out that there are those who wouldn't want IT in the library either."

If religious institutions want to remain separate from government and secular politics, they have to expect that there will be some anti-religious views. So libraries, keep those views safe! We can't expect people to think for themselves with books that have only one view.

Author: Pullman, Philip
The Golden Compass, [The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass]
Publisher: Knopf

Removed, but later returned to the library shelves at dozens of schools in the publicly funded Halton, Ontario, Canada, Catholic School District (2007) despite that the books were challenged as being "written by an atheist where the characters and text are anti-God, anti-Catholic, and anti-religion." The book and two other Pullman titles from the Dark Materials trilogy were pulled from public display for review, but are available to students upon request. The publicly funded Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Catholic School District (2007) returned the book to its library shelves two months after ordering its removal. Detractors accused the book of having antireligious content. Similar concerns prompted the Catholic League, a Roman-Catholic anti-defamation organization in the U.S., to urge parents to boycott a movie version of the book that was released in December 2007. Challenged at the Conkwright Middle School in Winchester, Ky. (2007) because the main character drinks wine and ingests poppy with her meals, and the book presents an anti-Christian doctrine. Pulled from the St. John Neumann Middle School and Lourdes High School in Oshkosh, Wis. (2007) because of concerns about what critics call its "anti-Christian message." Challenged at the Shallowater Middle School in Lubbock, Tex. (2007) because of the book's "anti-religious messages." Pulled from the library shelves at Ortega Middle School in Alamosa, Colo. (2007) for what critics regard as the book's anti-religious views. District officials later returned the book to circulation. Retained by the publicly funded Dufferin-Peel Catholic School District in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada (2008) with a sticker on the inside cover telling readers "representations of the church in this novel are purely fictional," and are not reflective of the real Roman Catholic Church or the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

: Books Challenged or Banned in 2007-2008, Robert P. Doyle

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