Two history books being considered for adoption by the Boise School Board are raising the ire of some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who find passages unfair and derogatory to their faith.
A handful of LDS people have requested that the books not be purchased and some were expected to attend Monday night's school board meeting to voice their objections.The books are among 30 texts the board will consider for adoption at the meeting.
Jack Craven, director of curriculum and instruction for Boise schools, said the books are being reviewed for historical accuracy and balance. The findings will be forwarded to the school board, he said.
Rep. Gary Montgomery, R-Boise, a Mormon, said he doesn't approve of the treatment Mormons receive in "American History, A Survey." The text is designed for 11th-grade advanced placement history classes.
"The overall tone of the section on Mormons is derogatory and misleading," Montgomery said. "It misrepresents history and theology. I assume that would be a general reaction by most members of the Latter-day Saints."
The other book being criticized is a ninth-grade history text. Ellen McKinnon, a Mormon parent, wrote in a letter to Craven:
"In light of the fact that there is a large LDS population in this community and that the vast majority of Latter-day Saints are supporters of education, it seems less than wise to select texts that will inflame if there are others that deal with this period in a balanced manner."
The 11th-grade history book describes Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church, in his early days as a "young, energetic, but economically unsuccessful man, who had spent most of his 24 years moving restlessly through New England and the Northeast."
The book also says early Mormons did not believe in "individual liberty" and were "economically marginal people."
Steve Tyree, social studies supervisor for Boise schools, defended the book, saying it is widely used in high schools, colleges and universities throughout the country.
Among those, Tyree said, is Brigham Young University, an LDS-founded institution in Provo, Utah, that will use the text this summer.
Other institutions with large Mormon enrollments that have used the textbook include Rick's College in Rexburg, Idaho State University in Pocatello and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Tyree said.
Both McKinnon and Montgomery mentioned a recent Boise State University study revealing that non-Mormons in the state generally have lukewarm feelings toward Mormons.
"At a time when Mormons and non-Mormons are trying to come together, I think it's very unfortunate such a slanted pointed of view is presented," Montgomery said. "It's counter-productive."