California school bans all Christian books

(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian)

A Californian school has banned all Christian-based books from its library, claiming that it does not allow "sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves."

A parent complained after Springs Charter Schools in Temecula, California, pulled all Christian books, those by Christian authors and those released by Christian publishers – including Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place.

Superintendent Dr Kathleen Hermsmeyer has defended the decision, insisting that all "sectarian materials" are inappropriate in a state-funded school.

"We do not purchase sectarian educational materials and do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves," she said.

"We are a public school, and as such, we are barred by law from purchasing sectarian curriculum materials with state funds. We only keep on our shelves the books that we are authorized to purchase with public funds."

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), which works to defend religious liberty in the US, has urged the school to retract the ban, branding it an "alarming" move and a violation of the First Amendment.

"It is alarming that a school library would attempt to purge books from religious authors," a statement from Brad Dacus, President of PJI, reads.

"Indeed, some of the greatest literature of Western Civilisation comes from people of faith. Are they going to ban the sermons and speeches of Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr? What about the Declaration of Independence that invokes the laws of nature and nature's God?"

Dacus has condemned what he sees as "a major eliminate the religious viewpoint."

"Libraries cannot engage in an open purging of books simply because they are of a Christian perspective," he added.

"We are calling on Springs Charter Schools to immediately reverse their ill-conceived and illegal book-banning policy."

In a letter to PJI, Hermsmeyer has insisted that the school has never discriminated against "Christian authors or publishing companies who create secular educational materials."