An Illinois school district is pulling one book from the shelves and reconsidering the use of all other titles taught in classrooms after a principal raised concerns about sexually explicit content. Eric Michaelsen, the principal of Lemont High School, notified parents last month by email that “The God of Small Things,” by Arundhati Roy, had been removed from the reading list of the Academic English II class, reported the Cook County Chronicle. “(The book) contains subject matter in some sections that is not appropriate for our students,” Michaelsen wrote in the November 2 email. “The questionable passages were not assigned for students to read. The books have been collected and will not be used again.”
However, according to the Cook County Chronicle, Michaelsen also removed the Bible from the school’s English studies for containing “sex, murder, suicide and homoeroticism.” Yet, what makes this move different from the initial one is the fact that the principle hasn’t notified the parents that he has banned the Bible, but simply stated in the aforementioned email that the use of other books “is being reconsidered.” “I didn’t think it was as big of a deal,” Michaelsen told The Chicago Tribune. “The Bible is a much more widespread piece of religious literature, and as such, it’s not as important.”
Asked to elaborate on his move, Michaelsen argued that sexually explicit content is “one thing,” but that “such content put in the context of religion, which purports how things ‘are supposed to be,’ is increasingly dangerous, on one hand, and hugely offensive on the other.” “The thing is, any kind of explicit content, sexual or otherwise, can very easily be weaponized when used in a religious way,” he argued. “Just look at what’s being done with the Islam’s holy book, the Quran. You have terrorists who are recruiting Muslims around the world by using a deviant form of the Quran’s teachings. And that’s also something that’s been done with the Bible in the past. Just remember the Crusades.”
He continued, “I don’t believe that children of this age should become involved in anything so violent and extreme, especially not something that has a religious stigma attached to it. We have children of many religions in our school, and the book is very offensive to some of them. Furthermore, associating things like murder, suicide, sex and, worst of all, homoeroticism, with something as pure and innocent as religion could easily persuade them that the aforementioned extremes also share the same traits. And that leads to seeing murder and homosexualism as something acceptable and positive, which, ultimately, is how serial killers and rapists are born.”
“Therefore, I don’t think there’s any room for the Bible in this school, and I would argue that every school in the country should make the same decision,” Michaelsen added. “Those kids will have plenty of time to focus on religious studies once they’re more mature and they’ve finished this school; they won’t be our problem anymore at that point. But, until then, I will not be held responsible for creating another Ted Bundy or Charles Manson,” he concluded.