Banned Books Week: The Bible

To celebrate Banned Books Week 2012, the library will be posting reviews and commentary from college staff and students about their favorite banned books and why during the celebration.


By Richard Ryskamp
GRCC Trustee

Favorite: The Bible
Author: Multiple
Why: In the words of the founders of this nation:

This book is worth all the books that ever were printed, and it has been my misfortune that I have never found time to read it with the proper attention and feeling till lately. I trust in the mercy of Heaven that it is not yet too late.

– Patrick Henry (Revolutionary General, Legislator, “The Voice of Liberty”, Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution, Governor of Virginia), speaking about the Bible, as quoted by his grandson William Wirt Henry in Patrick Henry; Life, Correspondence and Speeches, Volume 2.

The Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.

-Benjamin Rush (Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Surgeon General of the Continental Army, Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution, “Father of American Medicine”, Treasurer of the U.S. Mint, “Father of Public Schools Under the Constitution”) Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), p. 93, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book;” see also Rush, Letters, Vol. I, p. 578, to Jeremy Belknap on March 2, 1791

All the… evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.

– Noah Webster (Revolutionary Soldier, Judge, Legislator, Educator, “Schoolmaster to America”) History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 339, “Advice to the Young,” 53

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Utopia – what a Paradise would this region be! 
– John Adams (Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Judge, Diplomat, one of the two signers of the Bill of Rights, Second President of the United States) Works, Vol. II, pp. 6-7, diary entry for February 22, 1756

Is the Bible really banned? There are many countries where it is illegal to possess a Bible. These are primarily communist countries like North Korea1 and Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia.2 And then there is the United States where the Bible is singled out as a book that public school students may not be exposed to,3 and there are attempts to prohibit students from reading it to themselves in private.4

References:
1. North Korea executes woman for distributing Bible
2. International Religious Freedom Report 2005 Saudi Arabia
3. Busch v. Marple Newtown School District
4. Thomas More Law Center Ensures Right Of Third-Grade Student To Read Bible In Public School

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