Since July of 2021, more than 200 books have been banned in various school districts across Florida, the state with the third-highest number of school book banning incidents in the U.S. This comes as the Florida legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis have passed House Bill 1467, which allows members of the public to challenge and ban books available in school classrooms and libraries, and a swath of “anti-woke” legislation purportedly aimed at empowering parents to protect their children’s impressionable minds.
“If they’re gonna ban books, then the whole library should be in play. My hope — and it’s a longshot — is that they will apply their own standards to themselves and ban the Bible,” Chaz Stevens tells New Times.
Free-speech and literary-expression advocates have been sounding the alarm about what they see as a bureaucratic, authoritarian attack on education in Florida, particularly after recent news that the state rejected 54 math textbooks from the curriculum for allegedly containing prohibited topics such as “Critical Race Theory.” When the state went so far as banning math books, Stevens says, he was inspired to use the same bureaucracy to strike back against the conservative wave with an operation he calls “Eff Off Jesus.”
In his letter to Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Jose Dotres, Stevens writes:
“I wish to file such an objection, requesting the Miami-Dade County Public School system immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material,and, as is often the case with banned books, I ask your agency lay flame to that giant stack of fiction in a pyre worthy of a Viking sendoff.”
“With the constant
babbling concerns about teaching Critical Race Theory, should we not take stock of the Bible’s position on slavery? I am concerned our young white students will read such passages and wake up to civilization’s sordid past.”
Stevens also named a number of reasons why he wants the Bible banned including: “age inappropriateness, social-emotional learning, mentions of bestiality and rape, and “wokeness” as reasons to ban the Bible.”
In response to Stevens’ demand letters, one school district superintendent has responded so far. In an email to Miami New Times, Elmo R. Lugo, an MDCPS spokesperson, has released a statement acknowledging the issue. “We acknowledge receipt of the subject letter. District staff will review it and respond accordingly,” Luga said via email.
“They better not fucking ignore me,” Stevens warns. “If they ignore me, doesn’t that tell you something? The government can’t pick and choose religion, but can they choose which books they review for banning and which ones they don’t?”