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Censorship of Atheists and Atheism

David Kent
From the introduction of letterpress printing in the 15th century, there have been political attempts to censor the press. "The actions of the government of Venice were more largely, concerned with the supervision and regulation of the press for the safety of the interests of State and Church." (George H. Putnam, Books and Their Makers During the Middle Ages, II:352) Book banning was begun by the Church in 1491; trials under the Inquisition extended from 1547 to 1730. (op. cit., p.371)

In light of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speach and of the press, it may surprise some that book banning flourishes today in public libraries and high schools. Books about atheism or critical of religion have become a primary target. Here are a few of these targeted books, along with the reasons given for their challenge.

1) William Butler, The Butterfly Revolution -- the book "suggested dislike of the Bible and belief in atheism."
2) Charles R. Darwin, On the Origin of Species -- promotes evolution.
3) Howard Fast, Citizen Tom Paine -- totalitarian; withdrawn from USA libraries.
4) William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying -- "the book questions the existence of God."
5) Louise Fitzhugh, The Long Secret -- "the book pokes fun at religion."
6) Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire -- contradicts official church history.
7) Bette Greene, I Know You Al -- the book did not uphold the principles of the United States which were "established on the moral principles of the Bible."
8) Elizabeth Hall, Possible Impossibilities -- the book "would lead children to believe ideas contrary to the teachings of the Bible."
9) Frank Herbert, Soul Catcher -- the book "is a mockery of Christianity, and very much anti-God."
10) Norma Howe, God, the Universe and Hot Fudge Sundaes -- the book "pushes several items of the humanist agenda: death education, anti-God, pro-evolution, anti-bible, anti Christian, and logic over faith."
11) Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest -- the book promotes "secular humanism".
12) Jerome Lawrence, Inherit the Wind -- its "anti-religious nature."
13) A.M. Lighter, Gods or Demons? -- the book "promotes a secular-humanistic belief in evolution and portrays the ‘Bible as myth’."
14) Ross Lockridge, Jr., Raintree Country -- "1066 pages of blasphemy and sacrilege inimical to faith and morals and within the prohibition of the Catholic Index."
15) Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason -- promotes the use of reason.
16) Katherine Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins -- "Christians are portrayed as being dumb and stupid."
17) Robert Peck, A Day No Pigs Would Die -- the book "is bigoted against Baptists."
18) Bertrand Russell, What I Believe -- a freethinker
19) Marion Starkey, The Tall Man from Boston -- "would lead children to believe ideas contrary to the teaching of the Bible."
20) Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Slaughterhouse Five -- the book was burned, banned, challenged and restricted, for this sentence among others: "The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty."
21) Barbara Walker, The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets -- the book "is of no benefit to anyone."

Source: American Library Association, Banned Books (1998)

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