I was saved during the Jesus people movement that swept North America during the late 60s and early 70s.
I ended up going to what can only be described as a Hippy church full of flower girls and long-haired boys. The pastor was the oldest person in our church — I think he was 25 at the time.
A good friend of mine during those days was a fellow named Duncan. He stood over six-feet and had hair nearly as long. It was right down to his waist, actually even a bit further. Despite all that hair, Duncan went on to have a very distinguished, professional career.
I remember a conversation he and I had back then. We discussed buying dozens of Bibles, building a waterproof box for them and then going deep into the woods and burying them.
We suspected at some point it would be illegal to own a Bible in North America, but we would still have our secret stash.
We had even decided on which version we would hide — the New American Standard.
Though we never did carry through with our plot, maybe we should have.
On April 11, the American Library Association (ALA) released its list of most challenged books for 2015 and among the top ten was none other than the Bible. The ALA compiles its list from official complaints received at libraries throughout the US.
According to Jame LaRue, who serves as director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom a branch of the ALA , the Bible regularly receives complaints but hasn’t been on the top ten list for about seven years.
This year, the Bible was the sixth most challenged book, behind Looking for Alaska, Fifty Shades of Grey, I am Jazz, Beyond Magenta and The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Most of these books have a bit of an explanation about why people challenged them. Among other reasons, it was often because of sexual content considered “unsuitable for the age group.”
There were only three words used to describe why the Bible was challenged: “Reasons: Religious viewpoint.”
“As a society, considering an index of complaints helps us to understand who we are and where we’re going. Cultures change over time and the things we fear, or celebrate, change with them.”
Which brings me back to my story at the beginning of the article. In March, about a month before ALA released its list, Ken Ham who serves as president of Answers in Genesis wrote a blog post wondering if a day is coming when the Bible would become a banned book in America.
In his article, Chaplain dismissed for using the Bible, Ham was discussing the case of a voluntary prison Chaplain in England who was dismissed because as he was preaching on God’s forgiveness to a group of prisoners, he read from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
“And really, the authorities are saying the Bible itself is not suitable for people! How long before it will be outlawed?”
If it happens, it wouldn’t be the first time that authorities banned the Bible. One of the most horrific persecutions of the early church occurred during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian (244 – 311 AD). It began February 23, 303, towards the end of his reign.
One of the tactics used was forcing people to give up their scriptures. In some instances, it involved a systematic door to door search of people’s homes.
There was no official Bible at this point. People had collections of writings — the Gospels and letters written by the Apostles Paul, John and Peter. Among the sacred writings in circulation were also a number of frauds.
Because of this persecution, people wanted to make sure if they were facing imprisonment and even death that it was due to the true scriptures. They didn’t want to end up in the Roman arena because of a fraud.
It was partially this persecution that forced the early church to finally determine what were the true writings of the apostles and what wasn’t. This paved the way for the formation of our modern Bible.
Today, the Bible is again under fire and like what happened 1800 years ago, Christians may have to make a decision on what they really think about this sacred book.