November 2018 Church & State - November 2018

Maine Clergy Protest Library’s Banned Books Display

  Rob Boston

A group of clergy members in Rumford, Maine, sought to have a display of banned books at the local public library removed because they didn’t like some of the titles it highlighted.

Officials at the Rumford Public Library erected the display in September to mark Banned Books Week, an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association that is designed to increase awareness about censorship efforts.

Three religious leaders in the town – Dan Pearson, pastor of the Rumford Baptist Church; Justin Thacker, pastor of Praise Assembly of God; and the Rev. Nathan March of Parish of the Holy Savior – wrote to Library Director Tamara Butler to oppose the presence of LGBTQ-themed books in the display, reported the Rumford Falls Times.

The library hosted a forum to discuss the issue that included Pearson and Thacker. During the event, Pearson denied that the religious leaders wanted to ban the books but added, “There was concern because a few of the books on the banned book display, front and center, were displaying sexual themes that we thought were not appropriate for children, especially.”

After the forum, the library’s board of directors voted to keep the display of banned books intact.

Butler defended the display.

“Those books are perfectly appropriate for a banned book display,” she said. “We did it before, and other libraries do it. The display is to remind people of the freedom to read, lack of censorship … that’s the reason for it.”         

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