First Liberty Requests Investigation After American Library Association Calls for Ban of Kirk Cameron Books

July 7, 2023
Insider | Kirk Cameron | First Liberty Institute

by Jorge Gomez • 5 min read

First Liberty sent a letter this week to the Institute of Museum and Library Services on behalf of our clients, Brave Books and Christian actor and author Kirk Cameron. We’re calling for an investigation of religious discrimination by the American Library Association (ALA), after ALA leader Deborah Caldwell-Stone encouraged librarians to make public library meeting rooms unavailable for a Brave Books Story Hour event.

Caldwell-Stone targeted our clients based on their religious beliefs. Recently, she strongly criticized them for encouraging local community members to use libraries to read books with a religious perspective. She also encouraged the nation’s public libraries to “construct policies and procedures that will help you keep control of the library.” She holds the Orwellian ALA title, “Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom.”

Speaking to those gathered for the “Library 2023 Worldwide Virtual Conference,” Caldwell-Stone wrongly suggested that the aim of our clients is to, “censor LGBTQIA materials or disparage or silence LGBTQIA library users, (and) exploit the open nature of a public library.” She even suggested that our clients’ “See You at the Library” campaign is somehow an endeavor to “take over libraries.”

These are blatantly false claims, and our letter sets the record straight:

“To be clear, our clients welcome all members of the community to utilize the local library. Our clients recognize the right of the local community to use public library meeting space to host ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ to the same extent that our clients are permitted to host ‘See You at the Library.’…Indeed, our clients and their followers only seek the appropriate use of a single room at the local public library. Yet, Ms. Caldwell-Stone openly questions the motives of our clients while the ALA applauds other story hours using the same space.”

Instead of ensuring that our nation’s libraries remain open to a diversity of viewpoints and equal treatment of all groups, the ALA is conspiring to deny access to thousands of citizens based upon open intolerance of their religious beliefs, speech and expression. This is blatantly unconstitutional and violates ALA’s own Library Bill of Rights, which states that a person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of their views – including religious views. We also point out that, as federal grant recipients, the ALA may not utilize taxpayer funds to openly violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and federal regulations.

“While claiming to promote equality and diversity, the ALA is conspiring to deny access to thousands of citizens based upon open intolerance of their religious beliefs,” said Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First liberty. “Such actions are blatantly unconstitutional. Federal taxpayers should not be required to fund such bigotry and intolerance.”

We conclude with a call for an investigation to determine whether the ALA is complying with our nation’s commitment to nondiscrimination in the use of federal grant dollars, including respecting the religious liberty of citizens.

This isn’t the first time First Liberty has stepped in to ensure libraries remain accessible for all members of the community. Earlier this year, an Arizona library that had denied a man access to host a reading of a Christian book chose to back down after receiving First Liberty’s letter.

Local resident Ricardo Frias requested use of the San Tan Valley County Library in Arizona last December. He wanted to use the space for a story time event which included reading Kirk Cameron’s “As You Grow,” a children’s book on the Fruit of the Spirit that teaches values such as kindness, joy, patience and self-control.

After an exchange of emails over several weeks, the County eventually denied his request, saying, “The building is county owned we have to be careful about the separation of church and state and we aren’t allowed to offer the space for church or religious activities that could be considered preaching.”

First Liberty sent a letter urging the County to reverse that decision. The library changed course, set aside the denial, and agreed to work with Ricardo.

Some public libraries are doing the right thing. Even still, those in charge of our nation’s libraries do not appear to be getting the message that they cannot exclude religious Americans from using library facilities.

It’s unconstitutional to deny people of faith access to a meeting room of a public library. What’s more, federal law expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. Public libraries and other government agencies must treat religious individuals and organizations the same as everyone else, including equal access to public spaces.

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