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Library Rejects Church's 'Christian-Themed' Story Hour, Faces Possible Suit: Legal Group

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Feb 01, 2023
Library Rejects Church's 'Christian-Themed' Story Hour, Faces Possible Suit: Legal Group

Library Rejects Church's 'Christian-Themed' Story Hour, Faces Possible Suit: Legal Group

An Arizona public library violated the U.S. Constitution and its own policy when it refused to allow a local citizen to reserve space for a church-sponsored Christian-themed story hour, according to the man’s legal representative.

Pinal County resident and citizen Ricardo Ferreira Frias made the request in December to San Tan Library, telling officials he wanted to hold a story hour to read one of a series of Brave Books, which he said would illustrate “a moral principle aligned with the Bible,” according to First Liberty Institute, which is representing him. The story hour would be hosted by Calvary Chapel of Queen Creek and open to the public.

Frias told library officials his book was “Christian themed and Bible based.”

Library officials, though, declined Frias’ request, telling him that “because the building is county owned we have to be careful about the separation of church and state and we aren't allowed to offer the space for church or religious activities that could be considered preaching,” according to First Liberty.

First Liberty says the library is violating its own policy, which states, “We welcome and allow non-profit organizations and community groups [to use conference rooms] when those facilities are not needed for administrative use, activities, or programs sponsored in whole or in part by the County.”

The library also is violating Supreme Court precedent and the U.S. Constitution, First Liberty says.

First Liberty sent a letter dated Jan. 30 to the Pinal County Board Supervisors.

“If Pinal County continues to deny him access to the San Tan Library, we will take legal action,” the letter said.

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. Kirk Cameron’s new book As You Grow was published by Brave Books.

“Public libraries that open their doors to people from the community to hold story time cannot then reject someone because the book they choose to read has a religious message,” said Andy Gould, senior counsel with First Liberty. “Such discrimination is both unconstitutional and unlawful. We hope that administrators at the San Tan Library quickly reverse their decision before litigation becomes necessary.”

Gould is a former member of the Arizona State Supreme Court.

Brave Books launched a website where the faith community can get updates on future Brave Books Story Hours. The website also provides information on hosting a story hour.

“It takes courage to stand up for truth and to do so publicly,” the website says. “We are here to support and help you BE BRAVE.”


Kirk Cameron to Continue Library Readings: ‘We Are in a Battle for the Hearts’ of Children

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jovan Epn

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.

Library Rejects Church's 'Christian-Themed' Story Hour, Faces Possible Suit: Legal Group