Kirk Cameron's message of Christian values and raising a child with a moral outlook has been welcomed with wide open arms by the parents of America. Inundated with books, shows and entertainment that focus on sexual depravity and the intentional obfuscation of reality, parents across the US have flocked to Cameron's book readings, finding similar views to their own within the pages of his stories out from Brave Books.
Yet the American Library Association is horrified that Cameron is bringing so many Christians to the libraries. When they learned that Cameron and Brave Books are planning a Library Takeover Campaign, a national story time, asking parents across the country to host book readings at libraries on August 5, they freaked out.
In audio obtained by Haley Kennington and provided to Brave Books the ALA can be heard giving librarians ways to get around the Brave Books Library Takeover and to prevent that from happening at their libraries.
"We're seeing groups that seek the censor LGBTQA materials or disparage or silence LGBTQA library users exploit the open nature of a public library to advance their agendas," says Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director at the AMA. She gave the talk at the Library 2023 Worldwide Virtual Conference on June 8.
Caldwell-Stone is the director for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. In 2021, she drafted an op-ed advocating for freedom of speech, and freedom to read, saying that parents should not be able to prevent other people's children from reading books that they feel are inappropriate for their own children.
"While the First Amendment promises freedom of belief and the right to express that belief, it does not guarantee a right to dictate to school boards or library boards what ideas or beliefs may be found in our publicly funded libraries," she wrote. Yet, she feels that it's not only acceptable but necessary for librarians to block access to library public spaces in the event that they disagree with the religious perspective of the books being advocated by those patrons.
This is exactly the perspective that Cameron and Brave faced in 2022 when they attempted to reserve public library space to hold book readings. When he approached libraries about doing a story time event for kids, they rejected his offer outright. 55 libraries said they would not host story readings, with some saying that the "messaging" of his book "As You Grow" did not "align" with their values.
The book, he said, "teaches kids biblical wisdom, through the seasons of life and how to grow the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control." And the book reading drew crowds at every stop Cameron made on his Freedom Island tour.
Yet for Caldwell-Stone, a book promoting Christian values is a problem, and it was the key example for her talk about how librarians need to secure the messaging at their tax-payer funded institutions.
"For example," Caldwell-Stone continued, "right now, Brave Books and Kirk Cameron are conducting a campaign to take over libraries on August 5 by encouraging individuals to apply to use library meeting rooms for Kirk Cameron story hours."
"While I’m trying to encourage thousands of Americans to visit public libraries and read wholesome books to their children, the taxpayer-funded American Library Association is not only criticizing me," Cameron told The Post Millennial, "they are teaching libraries to break the law and conspiring to prevent thousands of families from visiting their own community reading rooms."
"So let's look at how you can use that public forum doctrine to construct policies and procedures that will help you keep control the library yourself," she continued.
"First, remember that, as I said before, libraries are for the receipt of information. That means that the First Amendment does not require the library to even offer reading room spaces. So in regard to the Kirk Cameron thing, you are not obligated to offer public meeting room spaces or invite the public to use the library," she said.
"Of course, this might be something you don't want to do. You don't want to deny your community access to a public meeting room to serve those community members, community groups that really need to use it. In which case do you need to develop policies that lead you in control of the library," she instructed.
"So here are some of the options that allow you to keep controlling your library and its meeting rooms for the use of your community, and for the use of the library users who might be targeted by a particular event. You can limit access to meeting rooms to persons eligible to hold a library card in your community. You could have - make a priority for library-sponsored programs and what if your library decided to offer a whole host of programs in its meeting room on August 5 making it unavailable for the public that's another option for you."
The ALA had a series of graphics to explain how librarians could keep Cameron, Brave Books, and parents who wanted to organize story hours out of the library altogether.
"Rather than being an example of genuine respect and non-discrimination," Cameron said, "the ALA is the champ in excluding viewpoints it disagrees with and preventing families from using libraries to read to their children about faith, hope and love. ALA, why all the hate? I thought you wanted diversity of thought in the Public Square? What happened to equal opportunity for all?"
And Caldwell-Stone isn't the only one encouraging librarians to block access to Christian families who seek to hold book readings on Christian values. Brave Books shared another quote from Kelly Jenson who, writing for Book Riot, said that "If you're a public library worker, now is the time to prepare for what could be either an onslaught or a big nothing burger."
Jenson suggests "reviewing your policies around meeting rooms and meeting with your legal representation on what requirements you can and cannot make of those requesting rooms," going further, to suggest banning the readings over a "public safety concern."
One librarian in New Jersey reached out to Brave Books, saying that "The children's services coordinator at the New Jersey State Library system notified employees about the upcoming story hour Brave Books had planned to organize at libraries across America. Frankly, I had to read the email three times. The text is nothing less than an active call for de-platforming Brave Books. What is particularly chilling is that her call for suppression is premised solely on the fact that Brave Books ‘ha[s] a right-wing ideology.’ In essence, her rationale is that any speech that is right of center has no place in NJ libraries."
Cameron was initially hit with backlash from libraries and librarians themselves who denied the request from Brave Books to hold story hours in libraries. Some of those libraries were the very same ones that hold drag queen story hours, but declined to hold Cameron's readings, in some cases saying that the values in his books did not align with the libraries.
The message from many of America's librarians is clear: grooming kids to be part of adult sexual lifestyles and gender identities is great, but allowing library users to hold their own story times, featuring Christian-inspired books, that's just not going to be permitted.
Parents, however, persist. Thousands of parents have come out to the readings, despite protests or moralizing from the American Library Association.
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