SALMON, Idaho — Salmon School District board members have rejected a minister's request that a book be banned from Salmon High School's freshman English curriculum that he says portrays Christians in a negative light.
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, had been pulled last March after the Rev. Timothy Gordish, a Lutheran minister, complained to the school district.
The book tells the fictional story of a teen who refuses to sell chocolate bars for a fundraiser at an all-boys Catholic school. The American Library Association ranks the book as the fourth most-challenged book in the U.S., as indicated by written complaints to public libraries and schools.
The novel appeared in 1974 and has since been praised by some for its realism but panned by others for its portrayals of immorality and foul language. Three of the board members at a May 8 meeting said they had read the novel.
"I consider myself a pretty tough guy, but after reading this I had a sick feeling inside," board Chairman Jim Bob Infanger said, the Post Register reported.
Board member Pat Hurt said, "Emotionally, it's tough to read the hard and cruel things that happen in the book. I like books and movies that make you feel good, and this doesn't make you feel good."
But she also made the motion to accept a committee's recommendation that the book be allowed to return to the classroom.
"We need to trust the evaluation of our faculty and administrators," she said.
Gordish called the board's decision "ridiculous."
"They have not yet addressed my issue that this book violates civil rights by denying religious freedom," he said.
Parent Chris Swersey said that concern wasn't a good enough reason to ban the book from the school.
"The Bible has all kinds of incest, adultery, murder, betrayal, take your pick," Swersey said. "That doesn't make it anti-Christian. There are people other than clergymen who can talk about morality."
The teacher who will again be allowed to use the book in her class noted the parallels between the novel and the attempt to ban it from the school.
"The board made their decision in spite of the fact they felt uncomfortable," said second-year teacher Jesse Bender. "One of the main points of the book is that sometimes you have to make the right decision even though you know repercussions are going to occur."