Last week on this blog, we wrote about an appalling incident in Jamestown Township, Mich., where residents voted to essentially defund their public library rather than tolerate a small number of LGBTQ-themed books in the collection.
That extreme act is being celebrated by the Christian nationalists at Answers in Genesis (AiG), a fundamentalist ministry that seeks to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools by promoting youth-earth creationism.
AiG sponsors an online video broadcast where its staffers comment on the news of the day. The hosts took some time out recently to gloat about the developments in Jamestown Township.
Host Jennifer Rivera called the story “kinda good news,” while cohost Kaia Kloster added, “Grooming children is basically what the agenda is here.”
Kloster celebrated the residents’ vote to kneecap their library, lauding it as a strategy for other communities. “Hit them financially, right, which is really a great way to do that,” she said. “It’s so important.”
The promotion of ignorance has long been a plank in the Christian nationalist platform. They simply don’t want young people to learn, read or ask questions because doing so might cause them to doubt fundamentalist dogma. They are well aware that public libraries, which make a host of material available from all perspectives, are their enemy. That’s why Christian nationalists are targeting them across the nation.
Some folks have been heartened by the fact that after the story made national headlines, people all over the country (and even the world) donated more than $100,000 to keep the Jamestown Township library open. It’s great that people care, but that figure doesn’t come close to matching the library’s annual budget. Plus, the library can’t rely on the kindness of strangers in perpetuity.
The only solution in Jamestown Township and elsewhere is for people who value the freedom to learn, question and explore to speak out against the forces of ignorance and regression that fear open inquiry so much they want to shut it down.
In short, when religious extremists target our public libraries – and be assured, they’re already coming – we need to be there to meet and defeat them.