An Arizona library that censored a local resident from hosting a Christian book reading is backing down after a religious liberty law firm’s demand letter.
“We appreciate the county’s quick response to our letter and are working with the library staff on scheduling a time when our client can host story time,” Andy Gould, senior counsel with the First Liberty Institute, told The Daily Signal.
The San Tan Library in Pinal County, Arizona, denied Ricardo Frias’ Dec. 15 request to reserve space at the library to read “As You Grow,” a book about the Fruits of the Spirit by Christian actor Kirk Cameron. The library cited the “separation of church and state,” though its rules allow community organizations to hold events.
“Another public library’s denial has sparked another community revival,” Cameron told The Daily Signal. “As Pilgrim Governor Bradford famously said, ‘As one small candle may light a thousand, the light kindled here has shined to many,’ God is using Ricardo Frias’ fearless faith and moral courage as a candle to light the torch of another Great Awakening in America.”
The First Liberty Institute sent a letter to the Pinal County Board Supervisors on Monday urging it to reverse the library’s decision.
“The fact that Mr. Frias’ message involves religion does not disqualify him from using your meeting rooms,” the letter reads. “In fact, it strengthens his case since he also has a right under the state and federal constitutions to freely exercise his religion. Denying religious speakers a forum to speak while allowing similarly situated secular speakers to communicate their messages, not only violates the religious speaker’s free speech rights, but also their free exercise rights as well.”
The library’s guidelines say nonprofit organizations and community groups are welcome to use conference rooms for events not sponsored by the county as long as the group does not participate in sales transactions or exceed noise restrictions.
“As You Grow” teaches traits all children should be learning about, including love, joy, peace, and patience, Brave Books CEO and founder Trent Talbot told The Daily Signal.
“I am thankful that the library backed down and allowed this story time to take place,” Talbot said. “This is such a sweet book that every child should be allowed to read.”
The San Tan library is not the first to ban a Brave Book, according to Talbot. More than 50 public libraries denied or ignored Brave Books’ requests for an “As You Grow” story hour with Cameron last year. Many of the libraries opened their doors to Drag Queen Story Hours while rejecting the Christian messages of Cameron, causing the “Growing Pains” star to threaten to sue.
“This incident is just fuel to us to continue this story hour movement,” Talbot said. “We are just getting started, and there’s some big things happening in the background.”
Cameron said Frias inspires him.
“History is ‘His Story,’ filled with plot twists, surprise endings, and a cast of colorful characters. Ricardo Frias is one of the good guys leading the charge against seemingly overwhelming odds to overcome evil with good,” Cameron told The Daily Signal. “I’m inspired by him and think we’ll be seeing more of this hero in coming chapters of America’s comeback story.”
The county library declined The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
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