Alabama Library Under Fire after Canceling Kirk Cameron Book Event

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Aug 10, 2023
Alabama Library Under Fire after Canceling Kirk Cameron Book Event

Alabama Library Under Fire after Canceling Kirk Cameron Book Event

An Alabama public library is violating the constitutional rights of Kirk Cameron and Brave Books by blocking an upcoming event that has drawn nationwide publicity, a religious liberty legal group alleges.

Brave Books is sponsoring “See You at the Library" events at libraries across the U.S. Saturday to support free speech and to “pray, sing and read books” by the publisher, Brave Books says on its website.

Brave Books authors Cameron and Riley Gaines were scheduled to appear at such an event Saturday at the Huntsville-Madison County Library until library staff canceled it, citing security and capacity concerns, according to First Liberty Institute, which represents Brave Books.

Jeremy Dys, senior counsel at First Liberty, sent a letter to the library Thursday, urging the library to reverse its decision. The library is violating the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, the letter says.

The library canceled the event upon learning that Cameron and Gaines would be attending in person, the letter says.

“We write to inform you that, should you persist in the cancellation of this event, you will have engaged in unlawful and unconstitutional religious viewpoint and content discrimination in violation of the Alabama Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Dys wrote.

A lawsuit is possible if the library does not reverse its decision, Dys said.

“Your actions unconstitutionally censor our client’s speech through your unbridled, unilateral decision-making,” Dys wrote. “The gathering of citizens to hear authors read books at libraries is hardly a novel invention. Further, the exchange of ideas at libraries — including the exchange of ideas that some deem offensive and even dangerous — has been a staple of our American experience and long protected by the First Amendment.

“Citing mysterious, undefined concerns about security is further misplaced when Mr. Cameron and Brave Books have made clear their intent to provide personal private security for the duration of the event. While no private citizen should be compelled to provide for the security of the general public to access public resources, surely their provision of the same for them, their guests, and your staff should assure the safety of all concerned and allay any legitimate concerns of your own.”

Brave Books, a faith-based publisher, says it wants to help Christians “win back story hour” at public libraries, which in recent years have been embroiled in controversies over drag queen book readings.

Photo courtesy: ©Ryunosuke Kikuno/Unsplash

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Alabama Library Under Fire after Canceling Kirk Cameron Book Event