December 2018 Church & State - December 2018

Iowa Religious Right Activist Sets Fire To Library Books

  Rob Boston

An Iowa man known for his anti-abortion and anti-gay views checked several LGBTQ-themed children’s books out of a public library and made a video of himself setting them on fire.

Paul Dorr took the books out of the Orange City Public Library in late October. He said he was upset because an LGBTQ-rights group called OC Pride was holding a festival that included a story time for children.

The Des Moines Register reported that most of the video depicts Dorr reading a post from an anti-LGBTQ blog. At the end, he tosses at least four books into a fire contained in a trashcan.

“I cannot stand by and let the shameful adults at the Orange City Library Board bring the next group of little children into their foul sexual reality without a firm resistance,” Dorr states during the video.

Some of the titles Dorr consigned to the flames were targeted by religious conservatives earlier this year. They were singled out by local residents who created a flyer headlined, “Homosexual/Transgender promoting materials in Orange City Library! Some aimed at pre-K kids, using YOUR tax dollars!” The effort was accompanied by a petition demanding that the titles be placed on restricted access.

Amanda Vazquez, the library’s director, told the Register she alerted the library’s board as soon as she learned of Dorr’s video. She also talked to officials at the Orange City Police Department, and they’re said to be looking into the matter. The police, the Register reported, are “discussing legal action.”

After news about Dorr’s actions broke, several people contacted the library and offered to replace the books and make donations. The Iowa chapter of American Atheists held a fundraiser that brought in more than $1,000. The money will be split between the library and OC Pride.

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