Once upon a time, fairy tales were read, adventures in far off lands held readers captive, Mastering the Art of French Cooking was studied, and DIY books on home repair and improvement were readily available—all in a relatively safe environment. Public libraries were welcoming places for all to seek knowledge and wholesome entertainment. Parents would bring their children to find books of interest, study and adventure. Many families would visit the library several times during summer vacation to keep children reading—and occupied—during the school break.
In the digital age, libraries are still thriving. Computer stations are available for anyone who wants to seek knowledge through the Internet. There are still departments of old, local records for history buffs. There are plenty of books for anyone who likes an actual physical book.
Special events are often held at libraries.
For example, my family once went to a talk about mushing in Alaska. Mushing is traveling across snow with a sled pulled by dogs. The speaker described the arduous life involved in this activity. The Iditarod race, the summit of this sport, became more tangible to his listeners. His talk was quite lively, and at a certain point, huskies were brought out to the delight of the children.
Libraries are a source of knowledge. Parents were pleased when a child was spending time at the library. This usually meant their child was maturing and taking studies more seriously. Getting one’s own library card was a minor rite of passage. Little Johnny was accepting some responsibility. He had to take care of the books that were loaned to him and return them by the due date.
Battle in Owensboro, Kentucky
However, parents have noticed over the decades that public libraries have been introducing increasingly questionable content into children’s books. Indeed, parents now have to be on alert. Book choices have to be carefully evaluated. The teen section of the local public library can be a real eye opener.
People in small town America are often complacent about some problems that do not affect them as much as people in larger cities. This June was an eye-opener for me at the Daviess County Public Library in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Entering into the teen section of the public library, there was a large Pride display. One message in the display read, “Teens: stop by the 2nd floor desk each week in June and get a Pride-themed goody bag.” Another message invites teenagers to “Check out our latest and greatest LGBTQ+ teen books.” The display also had a small lavender bucket that contained free Pride metal buttons, bookmarks and flyers with information about the dates and location for local teen LGBTQ+ meetings.
Perusing through the teen section, I saw a separate end cap display that featured “Queer Ducks (and Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality.” A Publisher’s Weekly review of the book tries to push the theory that anomalies in nature show “queer behavior has never been ‘unnatural.’ “The book is a part of a collection to normalize homosexuality in the minds of adolescents.
On June 21, the feast day of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of youth, local Catholics organized a prayer rally to ask Divine help to protect the innocence of youth. The rally preceded a meeting of the library board of trustees.
Among other prayers, attendees prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, and the Litany of Humility. Pride is the name given to a month of “celebrating” the unnatural vices of lust. Spiritual authors give remedies to counter problems of the soul. It was very fitting to pray the Litany of Humility to combat the effects of Pride.
As attendees gathered in front of the library, pro-homosexual counter-protesters also gathered. Besides the occasional taunting of Pride protesters brushing their flags against those in prayer, the rally concluded without incident.
After the prayer rally, both sides went into the library to attend the meeting of the board of trustees. The board started the meeting by going through items on their prepared agenda. Then they opened the meeting for public comment. The rest of the meeting consisted of commentaries from the public about LGBTQ+ materials at the library.
The first to speak was Janie Marksberry, a county commissioner and liaison for the fiscal court to the library. She stated that, “No sexual agenda, heterosexual, homosexual, or other, should be promoted to children under the age of 18, especially under an entity funded with tax payer dollars.” Later on she remarked that “Our children need to be protected from this radical woke agenda that has invaded our country, and now our county.”
Another speaker was Mrs. Kathryn Crowe, an organizer of the prayer rally. During her comments, she showed the board a copy of a book the library offers to teens. The title of the book was “Let’s Talk about It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human.”
The graphic book is a perverse take on human sexuality. Mrs. Crowe told the board, “It’s pornography. It’s illegal.” There was uproarious laughter from the pro-homosexual crowd. She had marked pages that proved her claim, however board members declined to investigate.
Adolescence can be a difficult, confusing time. Explaining bodily changes and the proper purpose of sexuality is a delicate task for parents. Masculinity and femininity are part of God’s great plan for humanity. A deep conviction must be established that the body is for the Lord (1 Cor. 6:13). Developing moral relationships in the midst of the modern social scene is difficult. Public libraries are serving up immoral poison precisely at that “inexperienced and changeable age” when it “more easily penetrates the mind and more rapidly spreads its harmful effects.” (See Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri, para. 24.)
For Christian parents, the fight to protect children from perverse literature in libraries will continue. Pope Leo XIII wrote that Christian parents must “be careful that their children receive religious instruction as soon as they are capable of understanding it; and that nothing may, in the schools they attend, blemish their faith or their morals” (Encyclical Nobilissima Gallorum Gens, para.3). Clearly today we must also say that parents must be careful that libraries do not blemish the faith or morals of their children.
David Mattingly, a concerned Catholic parent, writes from Owensboro, Kentucky.
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