Public libraries have long been a center of rights and representation debates: from questions of whether religious displays are appropriate to whether books should be banned, libraries as repositories of public resources present all kinds of policy problems. And the Putnam County Tennessee library is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this year, the library was the center of controversy when its drag queen story hour was condemned by anti-LGBTQ activists at Tennessee Pastors Network (TNPN). Now the library has again drawn the ire of the right-wing anti-LGBT extremists with its Pride month display. But this time the TNPN is declaring victory. But the nature of that victory seems to be questionable at best. And it speaks to a Christian crusade against the LGBTQ community that may be just getting under way.
According to a press release, TNPN is "marking a victory at a local library."
According to the organization, "TNPN President Dale Walker has been petitioning the Putnam County Library to give equal attention to Christian views and traditional marriage that at least match the promotion of the LGBTQ agenda during Pride Month."
"We feel this is important because Christians feel their biblical worldview is being marginalized in the Putnam County Library, and their children are not seeing a balanced display when they bring them in,” Walker said in a letter to the library. “This is offensive to many Christian families—that their view isn’t also presented equally.”
Never mind that these theocrats have insured that every month of they year is Christian pride month, demanding "equal representation" on any day when someone else might get some spotlight. Giving another belief or value any attention at all somehow marginalizes them. How weak must a belief be that having to share the stage for a day with anything else marginalizes it, when it holds the stage 364 days a year? Why does a group so small, so marginalized, as the LGBTQ community scare the TNPN so?
The TNPN claims that the library removed an LGBTQ themed display from the children's area of the library in response to their theocratic activism. And TNPN claims to be emboldened by this "victory" to continue their crusade to oppress beliefs they do not view as in keeping with their understanding of the 'christian' faith.
“It is sad to see the moral decay in our culture, and the library should be a neutral environment rather than one to confuse the minds of little children,” he said. Never mind that TNPN churches only exist because they are able to corrupt the minds of youth from the crib. And in one breath they say neutral, in the next breath they declare Christianity should exercise political muscle over all of us.
“Christian taxpaying families also shouldn’t have to deal with LGBTQ indoctrination when they walk through the doors of their public library. Christians still have a voice, and if we will just use it, we can make a difference in the cultural war that is raging. The church must not be silent in such a critical time, and we should exercise our religious liberties that came at great cost to our nation.”
You read that correctly. Just weeks ago, a Christian pastor, given a gun by the state, was preaching the rounding up and murdering of LGBTQ people by the state. Now the TNPN wants to make sure that such 'churches' take a bigger voice in politics. Tax free.
As for the actual facts, it is yet unclear whether the TNPN is declaring victory where none existed. The display could have been removed in the normal course of business, or it could have been supplemented with additional books related to Christian values.
Currently, the Putnam County Library has not responded to requests for comment or clarification. But locals claim that LGBTQ books remain on display in the main library area, and on the shelves, except the many which have been checked out. News of the TNPN's victory may thus be overly exaggerated. It's altogether possible that there is no victory at all but this is an example of a right-wing extremist group revising the facts ('thou shalt not bear false witness') to embolden its base.
Whether this victory is a fabrication or true, or as is most likely the truth is somewhere in the middle, one fact is clear: a right-wing religious organization dedicated to the eradication of LGBTQ people from the public sphere is on the march. Pride isn't enough. We have to stand up against these people and defend ourselves.