U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) has proposed replacing public libraries with “Christianized” versions.
In a tweet issued March 23, Higgins wrote, “Over time, American communities will build beautiful, church owned public-access libraries. I’m going to help these churches get funding. We will change the whole public library paradigm. The libraries regular Americans recall are gone. They’ve become liberal grooming centers.”
It’s unclear if Higgins plans to introduce legislation on the matter.
Critics said Higgins was off base. Stephanie Grace, a columnist for Nola.com, called Higgins’ tweet “obviously ridiculous and deeply offensive.” She added that Higgins and his political allies are targeting LGBTQ-themed materials, writing, “To say that these books are bad — or that librarians who allow patrons to check them out are ‘grooming’ rather than helping — is to suggest that those who’d identify with the stories they contain should feel shame. What a tragic, and dangerous, message, to kids who need to see people like themselves represented, and to society at large.”
Steve Benen, blogger for MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” also criticized the proposal.
“To the extent that reality matters, houses of worship are already free to create libraries if they want to, and they’re welcome to open the facilities to the public,” Benen wrote. “Of course, because the United States honors the separation of church and state, those church libraries are privately financed by voluntary contributions, though Higgins apparently has a new ‘paradigm’ in mind.”
On its “Wall of Separation” blog, Americans United speculated about what that “paradigm” might be for Higgins and his followers: “If they don’t like certain types of information, they’ll do all they can to choke off access to it. They’ll throw mud at the hard-working men and women who staff our public libraries and public schools. They’ll spread hysteria and lies. Their goal is to elevate ignorance over knowledge, fear over curiosity and conformity over dissent.”