In a victory for a grassroots movement of concerned parents and citizens of a small town in the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia, the county Board of Supervisors has agreed to restrict the funds of a public library until an agreement can be reached on what to do with dozens of pornographic books for kids that were found there.
On June 6, hundreds of local Catholics and other concerned citizens packed a Warren County, Virginia Board of Supervisors meeting in Front Royal to make their voices heard in opposition to dozens of pornographic children’s books that were found on the shelves at the Samuels Public Library.
“This is not literature. This is smut,” one dad said after reading an excerpt about anal sex from “This Book Is Gay.” Another soon-to-be mom discussed the book “It’s Perfectly Normal,” which is aimed at pre-teens and includes cartoon depictions of naked couples in various sex positions as well as discussion of masturbation and abortion. “Ideally, funding the library is important, but a sense of decency is owed the community before funding is owed to the library,” she said.
The grassroots movement, which has become known as “Clean Up Samuels Library,” announced on Wednesday that the Board of Supervisors had agreed to address the concerns of the community during a meeting on Tuesday night.
“The Board of Supervisors appropriated 100% of the funding for Samuels Library, but restricted 75% of it until September while board members negotiate with the library about what to do regarding these books,” the group stated in a press release. “The funds will be in a separate bank account until a deal is worked out.”
“From what we can tell, it’s not looking like the books will be removed entirely,” the release continued. “Rather, the board is negotiating to move them to the adult’s section, and to place restrictions on who can access the adult’s section without an adult.”
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Stand, Thomas Hinnant, a community organizer in Front Royal, described how the movement got started.
“A local grandmother was at the library with her grandchildren, and one of her grandchildren, a four-year-old boy, went and found one of these books in the child section, and she was appalled,” he explained. “A group of local folks went into the library and started looking around and realized that this pornography was all over the place in the kid’s section.”
Hinnant continued, “From there, concerned citizens and parents came together … and [decided to] organize an afternoon where a bunch of [mostly] young parents look through these books and send in requests for reconsideration, which is the process that the library uses to evaluate books. Upwards of 450 requests for reconsideration were submitted, and everything that we got back were denials, and the appeals were denied as well. The library has chosen to hide behind the standards of the American Library Association, which are out of touch and out of step with the community consensus of Warren County.”
Front Royal, the seat of Warren County, is the home of Christendom College, a small Catholic university known for its adherence to orthodox Catholic teaching, as well as a number of other K-12 Catholic schools. A notably large population of Christendom graduates and other Catholics have settled in the area since the school’s founding in 1977. Despite being located relatively close to more liberal counties in northern Virginia, Warren County is deeply red, with almost 70% of the population voting Republican in the 2022 midterm election.
Hinnant further noted that while the movement was encouraged by the results of board meeting, their demands have not changed.
“We want the pornographic books totally removed,” he emphasized. “We want democracy in the bureaucracy. Our tax dollars are ours, and we do not want unelected and faceless bureaucrats spending them on pornography for children. We want that space reserved for the great classics and the great works and the many wonderful books that can be on those shelves. There’s a larger list that we’ve put together that we want put into an adult section … that largely involve sexualization of children, LGBTQ, etc. Some would quibble that it’s not exactly pornography. To us, anything that sexualizes a seven-year-old is pornographic in nature, but we’re willing to say this stuff can be moved to another section for now.”
The fight that has opened up in Warren County over controversial public library books aimed at kids appears to be a relatively new front in the broader nationwide battle which has centered on books in public school libraries. Hinnant told TWS that local communities have every right to demand that their values be reflected in how their tax dollars are spent, not just in schools, but in all other public institutions.
“We want a new standard,” he underscored. “We want cultural secession from the American Library Association and the hegemonic left-wing ideology that it represents, and we want community standards that represents the community consensus of an overwhelmingly conservative county. I think that if we were to do that, then those books would not be in the library anyway. … We are not backing down on any of our demands. We also want the leadership of the library to change and change swiftly. These people need to be held accountable for what they did. They fought tooth and nail to keep this pornography in our library, even though the clear popular will is not on their side.”
Hinnant went on to encourage other conservative communities across the country to take back their public institutions.
“We know that this is a roadmap for rural America,” he contended. “Frankly, for too long, conservatives have focused on elections, while well-trained and well-funded leftists have gone into these rural communities and essentially colonized them. We want to commence the decolonization of rural America, and that takes community organizing. That takes disciplined messaging, and that takes ‘We the People’ coming together to hold our elected officials accountable — and not just when the elections happen. We have to hold these bureaucracies accountable, because that is where the deeply-rooted colonization is, and that is where this cancer that rips through rural America is. This is a great example of a community coming together and standing up against this radical ideology that has truly colonized rural America, and they have done it under the cloak of darkness. And I think now people are finally starting to wake up to that. I hope that this will be a wake-up call to other folks in other rural areas.”
“We have got to take a stand here,” Hinnant concluded. “These elections are great, but if these folks are able to just run wild in our institutions that are educating our children, whether its schools, public libraries, anywhere that our public funds are being used, then it’s a problem.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.
RELATED ARTICLE: Guidance for trans groomers
EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.
The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.