Lent Book Burning

Ash Wednesday

As part of a larger review of Christian educational materials, ESCRU took issue with the illustrations in these publications, which they perceived to be racist stereotypes, as well as with the content of the curricula, which they argued was simplistic and paternalistic. In order to bring their concerns to a larger audience, several chapters of ESCRU, including those in Chicago, Trenton, and New York, sponsored an Ash Wednesday book burning. On February 19, 1969, clergy publicly burned the curriculum materials and imposed ashes on the heads of the penitents.

Book Burning

A press release from ESCRU asked “Is it Ever Right to Burn a Book?” Reaction to the book burning was decidedly mixed. Several long-time members resigned in protest over the unfortunate choice of symbolism. Others saw the book burning as a transformative ritual and dramatic way of bringing attention to the racist content of church curricula for children. [Sources]