This article has been updated to provide a statement from Emily Jones, chair of the Madison County, Alabama, chapter of Moms for Liberty.
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (LifeSiteNews) — Police officers held off angry leftists who attempted to disturb a patriotic Christian book reading featuring evangelical actor Kirk Cameron and conservative activist Riley Gaines on Saturday, Fox News reported.
According to the report, some 100 protesters, including people holding signs reading “Ban bigots” and “Ban hate, not books,” rallied outside the Madison Public Library in Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday to oppose the book reading. The event was hosted by conservative parental rights group Moms for Liberty and featured Gaines — a former NCAA swimmer best known for speaking out against men competing against women in sports due to transgender ideology — and Cameron, a well-known Christian actor, author, and conservative commentator.
According to Fox News Digital, some of the protesters at the Saturday event attempted to go inside the library during the book reading but were stopped by police.
As LifeSiteNews has previously reported, the patriotic “See You At the Library” story hours bring family-friendly books by Christian children’s publisher Brave Books to Americans nationwide. They are deliberately designed as a counterpoint to the “drag queen story hours” and other sexually inappropriate content increasingly available to children at public libraries.
According to Brave Books, the ambitious movement has “united 300 hosts across 46 states.”
Fox News reported that Saturday’s event in Alabama “went off relatively smoothly” despite the protests. Cameron led parents and children in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “God Bless America” prior to kicking off the book reading.
According to Brave Books, which has published several children’s books penned by Cameron, the event was filled to the library’s capacity of about 225 people.
Fox reported that Saturday’s event took place despite a previous canceling and rescheduling by the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library System, allegedly due to concerns about capacity.
“Due to the event’s anticipated attendance increasing beyond the Library’s capacity, the Library will be unable to host the event. Initially, the organizers of the event reported 20 attendees to library officials,” the library system said in a statement.
“On Tuesday the Library learned that event organizers are now expecting over 300 people, a number that far exceeds any meeting room capacity within the Huntsville-Madison County Library System,” the statement continued, adding that library staffers “explored options to make the event logistically possible by consulting the Madison City Police, the Madison City Fire Marshal and City officials” and decided to cancel the event and recommend an alternate venue.
Emily Jones, chair of the Madison County, Alabama chapter of Moms for Liberty, told LifeSiteNews in a Tuesday email that the group originally expected 20-30 attendees when they began planning in June.
“After learning of Kirk and Riley’s scheduled stop the expected plan shifted drastically at which point the library offered an extended room that had a capacity of 175, bringing the total capacity of both rooms to 225,” Jones said. “Brave Books estimated a turnout of 250 attendees based on their prior experiences which was relayed to the library along with the suggestion of doing two rotations of attendees in order to stay within the room capacity.”
At that point, Jones said, the library “began stating safety concerns and abruptly told me they would not host the event.”
Despite the initial cancelation, the library reversed its decision after receiving a letter from conservative law firm First Liberty Institute alleging that the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library was violating the civil rights of its client.
“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,” the First Liberty Institute advised the library system.
“We therefore request that you respond by Noon Friday, August 4, 2023, confirming Brave Books and Mr. Cameron may utilize the Madison Public Library to host the ‘See You at the Library’ event on Saturday, August 5, 2023,” the conservative law firm wrote.
In comments to CBN’s Faithwire on Friday, Cameron said that the ALA and local librarians have gone “mad” from “fear and woke-ness,” causing them to punish family-friendly events like his when they should be embracing them.
“These libraries should really be grateful that so many parents and children are excited to visit them tomorrow,” he said. “With e-books and other online reading options, sit-down libraries are becoming irrelevant and obsolete to the younger generation.”
“Too much fear and woke-ness has made the ALA and these librarians go mad,” the Christian actor and author said. “They are cutting off their nose to spite their face.”