This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on December 4, 2023.
Actor Kirk Cameron of “Left Behind” fame is cashing in on evangelical fears of LGBTQ people as he wages a war with “woke libraries” in a publicity stunt for his new children’s book.
“It’s terrifying to me,” Cameron said regarding children’s books that depict LGBTQ families as normal. “It’s actually just a slippery slope.”
“These are tactics of war,” he told CBN News. “These are tactics that are a pretense of tolerance, which is really just a transitional step toward totalitarianism.”
“These are tactics that are a pretense of tolerance, which is really just a transitional step toward totalitarianism.”
Cameron first gained national attention on the ABC sitcom “Growing Pains” in the mid-1980s. More recently, he’s devoted himself to conservative evangelical causes, including starring in a series of the “Left Behind” movies and in another evangelistic movie called “Fireproof.” He is an outspoken advocate of conservative evangelical causes, including support for Donald Trump and denial of the risk of coronavirus.
His latest conspiratorial terror is in response to Drag Queen Story Hour, which began in 2015 as a way to provide awareness of stories that include LGBTQ families alongside the many books that portray heteronormative families.
As it happens, Cameron had his own children’s book, As You Grow, coming out Dec. 1, just days before his public protests against LGBTQ-inclusive books and librarians.
What better way to drum up sales for your children’s book than by creating a national controversy during the month of your book launch?
While claiming, “I’m not trying to make headlines,” Cameron spent December creating a buzz for his new book and going on Fox News to stir up anger against librarians. His marketing campaign led to a public reading of his children’s book on Dec. 29 at the Indianapolis Public Library, with many other events planned.
A book ‘about biblical wisdom and the fruit of the Spirit’
“I’ve partnered with Brave Books to write this about biblical wisdom and the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control,” Cameron explained in an interview with Julie Banderas on the Fox News program America’s Newsroom.
He told CBN News, “I think drag queens would love my book if they just took the time to read it.”
“I think drag queens would love my book if they just took the time to read it.”
But according to Cameron and Fox News, librarians responded to his message about love and kindness by starting a war.
“You would never imagine that you would be in the battle of your life because you wrote a children’s book,” Banderas said.
A war on the ‘woke ideologies’ of CRT and ‘the transgender agenda’
During their Fox News interview, Banderas mentioned that Cameron’s agency sent a letter to libraries across the country with the invitation: “We would love to schedule a story hour for Mr. Cameron’s book where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies, specifically CRT and the transgender agenda.”
Cameron told Banderas: “These libraries said they were not interested and that their communities were not interested. And it wasn’t until I published a public letter asking them to reconsider and then mentioning the fact that we have constitutional rights — in fact, I have my copy of the Constitution right here — that I will assert in court, that they reversed course.”
But what did he think was going to happen when this marketing team included such inflammatory rhetoric?
The librarians respond
According to the Scarsdale Public Library in New York, “There was no ‘reversal.’”
In their first of two official statements, library administrators explain they received a message via their website Dec. 2 from Cameron’s publisher requesting for them to host Cameron for a story hour. “As with any request to present a library-sponsored program, we sent a link to our online application for presenting a library program,” they said. “The publisher did not submit an application.”
“Thank you for thinking of us, but we are not interested in this program.”
When they received the email from Cameron’s Amplifi Agency about wanting to warn the kids about the supposedly harmful effects of “CRT and the transgender agenda,” the library replied, “Thank you for thinking of us, but we are not interested in this program.”
After Cameron threatened legal action, Library Director Elizabeth Bermel responded by email saying they could request a room rental, while including links to the room rental meeting policy and reservation form.
In the library’s statement, they clarify, “The event is not a library-sponsored program, but rather a meeting room rental that cannot be rejected based on political or religious content under the First Amendment.”
Eventually, after creating all the drama, Cameron’s publisher filled out the necessary information and was given a room to do Cameron’s reading. But Cameron still complained to Fox News that they weren’t mentioned on the website calendar, even though the calendar mentioned a “play dough play date.”
From this, Banderas of Fox News concluded the controversy is bringing attention to “suppression” of “Christians that really want a storybook hour” and “don’t want to go and listen to drag queens read to their 18-month-olds.”
Public libraries providing meeting spaces for hate groups
What role should a public library have in such a debate?