By Kelsey Campbell
You’ve most likely read one of my favorite books of all time: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Even if it wasn’t required reading when you were in school, many adults today have read it — or at least seen the movie.
It’s a book I’ve reread multiple times, and one I particularly hold dear.
But despite its popularity as well as the fact that it won the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a successful movie, To Kill a Mockingbird was briefly banned in one Mississippi school as recently as 2017.
It’s disheartening to discover that others see a book you cherish as offensive. But it’s the same way with the Bible.
Labeled as “controversial,” “unorthodox,” and “dangerous,” God’s Word is the most widely banned Book in the world.
In some countries, finding a Bible is impossible. In North Korea, owning one is illegal … and being caught with one could have you killed.
This week is Banned Books Week, a campaign begun in 1982 by the American Library Association in order to fight the censorship of books.
Readers and book lovers around the country celebrate America’s freedoms by reading previously banned books and promoting authors whose books have been called into question. But people in closed countries don’t have that right; if they could even find a banned book, it could mean jail … or even death.
Yet being forbidden makes the Bible even more desirable to many seekers. North Koreans often look for Bibles on the black market because they’re intrigued by the contents. They wonder why someone would risk his life to own this Book.
As believers, we are encouraged to read the Bible, and we understand that it helps to grow our faith and love for God. But our “required” reading is banned in many places because it speaks a truth some nations don’t want their people to discover.
The American Library Association states that Banned Books Week “stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.”
In a similar way, when you help send Bibles into closed countries like North Korea, you are ensuring access to the Gospel’s “controversial” views.
Christians can agree that the most widely banned Book in the world is the one everyone needs to read. We need to stand together against the censorship of the Word of God and make sure it is available to all people.
Believers in North Korea and other closed countries take a great risk by reading the Scriptures — but they’re still willing to do anything to hold a copy in their hands. To make their dream become a reality, they first need to have access to Bibles.
If I hadn’t been given the opportunity to read To Kill a Mockingbird for myself, I’d never have known how much I love Harper Lee and her characters. And if people aren’t given the chance to read the Bible, they’ll never fully understand the treasure of a relationship with Jesus Christ.