Sherlock Holmes may have captivated and enthralled readers worldwide, but the legendary fictional detective seems to have drawn the censure of a parent from a central Virginia county.
The Albemarle County School Board has removed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes book, "A Study in Scarlet" from the sixth grade reading list.
Brette Stevenson, a parent of a Henley Middle School student originally challenged the book in May on the grounds that it is derogatory toward Mormons, reports the Daily Progress.
Stevenson complained that the book portrayed Mormons in an offensive light. She said that the book was not suitable as an introduction to mystery and deductive reasoning.
"'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," Stevenson told the board.
She suggested replacing the book with Doyle's fifth book "The Hound of the Baskervilles, which, she considered was a better introduction to mystery.
A committee commissioned to study the book published in 1887 said in a report that it was not "age-appropriate" for 11 and 12 year old students.
In a unanimous vote, the seven-member Albemarle County School board chose Thursday night to remove the Victorian-era detective novel, based on the committee's report and two discussions by board members.
The work was criticized for its portrayal of Mormons suggesting that it's a religion whose adherents are willing to commit murder to protect their ideals, according to a Los Angeles Times report. One storyline depicts Mormons forcing a main character, Lucy Ferrier, into polygamy.
USA Today published an extract from the book:
"(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."
Although the school board agreed to pull the book from the sixth-grade curriculum, members said they might introduce it in the high school curriculum.
More than 20 former Henley students turned out to oppose the book's removal from the lists. Quinn Legallo-Malone, a ninth-grader from Albermale High School, called the work "the best book" he had read.
Even though he was disappointed that the book was being removed from the lists, he was happy that it was being introduced again at a higher grade level.
"It's not what I had hoped for, but I guess they did what's best," Legallo-Malone said. "I was capable of reading it in sixth grade. I think it was a good challenge. I'm upset that they're removing it."
Malone said that he was looking forward to reading the book again if it was added to a high-school reading list.
Mrs Stevenson said she was pleased with the school board's decision.
"I think the process worked," she told the Daily Progress.
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. Most Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
Many early Mormons practiced polygamy, though the practice was disavowed by the LDS Church in 1890, and phased out over the next 15 years. It is no longer practised. However, at the time the book was published the practice was still probably prevalent.
"A lot of these books from the 1800s portrayed Mormons as villains. In those days, Mormons were villains that were going to come steal your wives and daughters. No one knew who we were, just a group out West in America, so we were an easy target," Scott Gordon, president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information Research (FAIR), a non-profit focused on addressing misconceptions of the Mormon faith, told abcNews.