July/August 2008 Church & State | People & Events

An Idaho public library has decided to permanently remove two books dealing with human sexuality from general circulation after complaints from fundamentalist activists.   

The Nampa Library Board voted to remove The New Joy of Sex and The Joy of Gay Sex, heeding a request from Youth 4 Revolution, the Idaho Statesman reported.

The books will be placed on special shelves not available to the public and will be accessible only upon request. Children under the age of 18 will need parental approval to check out the books.

The board’s decision caps a long-running debate in the community. The board has voted on the issue four times in the past two years, initially rejecting the censorship request unanimously in 2006. But Mayor Tom Dale appointed three new board members since then, and all voted in favor of removal.

At a previous board meeting in March, when the board took a temporary vote on the issue, 20 people signed up to speak for the removal, and 16 signed up to support keeping the books, reported the Idaho Press-Tribune.

After the vote, Youth 4 Revolution declared victory. The group issued a statement that boasted, “This is a huge victory for the community of Nampa, and for families across the state of Idaho – and a reminder to Christians that when we are willing to take a stand for what is right – we can have Victory, through the power of God and to His glory!”

Controversy has continued to roil the town. After the vote, library board member Bruce Skaug wrote an anonymous post on a local blog titled “The Unequivocal Notion” blasting the people who supported keeping the books.

“Many of you who gripe about the board’s decision don’t have spouses (of the opposite gender) or children (legitimate) because of your messed up view of sex,” Skaug wrote. “So you cannot understand people who wish to protect children from becoming like you.”

After Skaug was identified by another blogger, he agreed to resign from the board.

Legal experts say the board’s decision is legally problematic. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court said school board members cannot vote to remove a book simply because it goes against their religious beliefs or they do not like the ideas displayed in the book. The case, Board of Education v. Pico, dealt with a library in a public school.