Virginia school board bans Sherlock Holmes novel for being anti-Mormon

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It's elementary school, my dear readers: Last week, in a move Mitt Romney and Harry Reid might approve of, Virginia's Albemarle County School Board voted to remove Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel A Study in Scarlet, which first introduced the character of Sherlock Holmes, from sixth-grade reading lists for what they deemed age-inappropriateness. But the real issue appears to be the book's pejorative portrayal of Mormonism. 

Back in May, the parent of a student from Henley Middle School, Brette Stevenson, had spoken out against the book, saying "A Study in Scarlet has been used to introduce students to the mystery genre and into the character of Sherlock Holmes. This is our young students' first inaccurate introduction to an American religion."

The book has taken heat for its depiction of Mormons involved in murder, kidnapping, and polygamy. One passage from Chapter Three, involving a character's thoughts during a flashback scene to 1847 Utah, illustrates what has people jumpy:

"(John Ferrier) had always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, however, for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in the Land of the Saints."

A Study in Scarlet has been questioned before. When Doyle visited Utah in 1923, he received a letter inquiring as to why he depicted the Mormon Church as being "steeped in the assassination of apostates," and polygamy as "white slavery." He had responded that "all I said about the Danite Band and the murders is historical so I cannot withdraw that tho[sic] it is likely that in a work of fiction it is stated more luridly than in a work of history. It's best to let the matter rest."

More than twenty former Henley students turned out to defend the book, and testify that it hadn't made them want to burn Osmond records. Ninth-grader Quinn Legallo-Malone called A Study in Scarlet "the best book I have read so far… I was capable of reading it in sixth grade. I think it was a good challenge. I'm upset that they're removing it." Stevenson suggested that Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles be offered as a replacement.