April 2024 Church & State Magazine - April 2024

Illinois library director fired after flap over censorship and funding


The director of the public library in Metropolis, Ill., was fired in late February after members of the community expressed concerns that she was allowing her religious beliefs to influence policies.

Rosemary Baxter had earlier been put on a performance-improvement plan after members of the library’s board accused her of violating library policies by failing to provide a list of books in the collection to the board for the last eight months, failing to seek grant funds for the library and failing to separate her personal convictions from her position, reported the Metropolis Planet. But Baxter refused to sign the plan.

Controversy erupted over the library earlier this year after some residents in the town of about 6,000 expressed concerns over the potential for censorship. Baxter also unnerved some residents in January when she opposed state funding for the library.

“We don’t need state funding,” Baxter said. “There are grants we can get where we don’t have to barter with Satan in order to get the funding. If we don’t get any state funding, we’re going to be OK.”

Baxter, Metropolis Mayor Don Canada, two library trustees and a county commissioner all attend Eastland Life Church, headed by Pastor Brian Anderson, who serves on the Metropolis City Council.

In one of his sermons, Anderson said, “The enemy is attacking our city, our schools, and our public library. The powers of darkness have come in and want our library.” He added that “the library board is seeking to move the library to a leftist, radical ideology [and] forcing our Christian director to put things in the library that no one really wants.”

During an interview with a local Christian radio station, Baxter stated, “God told me not to apply for state grants and receive any state funding.” She said God would provide funding for the library.

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

Act Now