A library in northwest Iowa is considering its next steps after a religious activist burned several books.
Paul Dorr from religious group Rescue the Perishing on Friday recorded a Facebook Live video outside of the Orange City Public Library prior to an event where drag queens would be reading to children as part of the Orange City Pride Festival.
“Continuing my 25-year stand for Christ I cannot stand by and let the shameful adults at the Orange City library board bring the next group of little children into their foul sexual reality without a firm resistance,” said Dorr in the video.
He then reads aloud from four LGBTQ-related childrens books that he checked out from the Orange City Library, before burning each on tape. The books include “Two Boys Kissing”, “Families, Families, Families”, “This Day in June” and “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress."
He calls the concepts in the books things like “filthy”, “disgusting” and “shameful”.
After burning the books, he burns a tangerine dress to make a statement.
“With that let us all repent, let us turn back to Christ,” said Dorr after burning the dress. “We’ve lost our way so bad. Cry out to God. Join us. Call your elders, your pastors, plead with them. Call them to repent on the silences of whatever other sins are holding them back.”
Orange City Public Library officials say they’re looking at their options going forward. They’re not commenting on their reaction to Dorr, the books he chose to burn or what exactly they’ll do about it, but Director Amanda Vazquez says the library follows a national library nonprofit's standards on the types of books they stock their shelves with.
“As part of our library policy we do have the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights and ‘Freedom to Read’ and ‘Freedom to View’ statements which we have accepted as part of our library policy," Vazquez said.
The Freedom to Read statement says, "There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.”
Freedom to View condemns censorship of all mediums.
Vazquez said the library has a policy in place for damaged or overdue library materials, which she said lays out how they contact patrons to alert them they have a book that's overdue by at least a week. The policy also says patrons are financially responsible for damaged or lost property like books, laptops and tablets.
While the library isn’t commenting on Dorr’s video, the ACLU of Iowa, which advocates to protect free speech, calls Dorr’s actions "disturbing." Executive director Mark Stringer said the ACLU is “not going to hesitate to say certain points of view are dangerous.”
Stringer said burning books from a public library is “an attempt to shut down the open sharing of discussion and ideas.”
“In the case of small children it should be parents and guardians who make these decisions about the values and beliefs their families embrace,” Stringer said, "not a rebel person who is going to burn public property to try and make a point.”
Dorr did not return a request for comment.