Scarsdale Library Speaks the Truth to Evangelical Kirk Cameron
- Friday, 16 December 2022 08:31
- Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2022 14:38
- Published: Friday, 16 December 2022 08:31
- Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 6171
Author Kirk Cameron has filed an application to reserve the Scott Room at the Scarsdale Public Library to hold a story hour for his new book, As You Grow, on Friday December 30 at 3:00 pm.
The Scarsdale Public Library issued the following FAQ on Monday December 19, 2022 to respond to questions about the event:
The Scarsdale Public Library would like to address comments received about an upcoming event booked by Brave Publishing. The event is not a library-sponsored program, but rather a meeting room rental, that cannot be rejected based upon political or religious content under the First Amendment.
The Scarsdale Public Library is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion for all community members. Granting permission to use a room does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any program.
What’s the difference between a library-sponsored program and a meeting room rental?
A library-initiated or sponsored event is organized and promoted by library staff. External parties may submit requests for the Library to host programming. Per Article V of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, libraries create programs based on educational suitability and audience interest. Libraries are often pitched programs or events by members of the public, publicists, and authors, and a public library is not required or able to put on every program requested.
A meeting room rental is when a group or individual submits an application and pays a fee to reserve a meeting room for their own purposes. First Amendment jurisprudence requires libraries to rent facilities equitably regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of those who seek to use them. Granting permission to use a room does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any individual or group by the Library, the Library Board of Trustees, or the Village of Scarsdale.
Is the library sponsoring a book reading of Kirk Cameron's As You Grow?
No. The Scarsdale Public Library is not sponsoring an event by Brave Publishing.
What type of event has Brave Publishing recently requested?
On Friday, December 16, 2022, Brave Publishing submitted a request for a meeting room rental. Because libraries’ meeting rooms are legally designated as "designated public forums" under the First Amendment, libraries may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or the ideas for which the group advocates. If the Scarsdale Public Library restricts potentially controversial groups’ access to meeting rooms, it may face legal and financial consequences.
Libraries may not deny meeting room access even to individuals or groups that are considered offensive or controversial. Libraries have been successfully sued by groups that have been denied access to library meeting rooms based on the group’s beliefs, the content of their speech, or the fear that the group’s meeting will cause controversy. The Scarsdale Public Library is likewise not permitted to regulate the message of any parties who rent a room.
(posted Friday December 16, 2022)
A publicity stunt by an actor and evangelist hit close to home this week, when Kirk Cameron, best known for his role on the television show “Growing Pains,” targeted the Scarsdale Library as a venue to spread the word about As You Grow, his new evangelical book for children. According to the publisher’s website, “This fun story with brilliant art teaches the Biblical truths of the Fruit of the Spirit.”
The book is published by Brave Books, a conservative book publisher who offers a monthly book club, that according to their website covers “difficult topics like gender identity, dangers of communism, cancel culture, critical race theory through family-friendly stories.”
Cameron used the Brave Book website to publish a copy of a letter he wrote to Scarsdale Librarian Elizabeth Bermel requesting the use of the library’s Scott Room on December 30 at 3 pm for a story hour. In his letter he says, “So many of our communities, perhaps like yours, are facing rates of crime, abortion, and murder well above the national average. I believe children in your community would benefit from hearing a message teaching Biblical wisdom as I explain my new book.
Commenting on the request, which has made national news, here is the response from the Scarsdale Public Library dated December 16, 2022:
On Friday, December 2, the Scarsdale Public Library received a message from a book publisher via the Library’s website requesting to schedule a story hour at the Scarsdale Public Library for a book by actor Kirk Cameron, “where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies.”
As with any request to present a Library-sponsored program, we sent a link to our online application for presenting a library program. The publisher did not submit an application.
On Tuesday, December 6, the Library’s Assistant Director received an email from the public relations company, Amplifi Agency, which stated, “We would love to schedule a story hour for Mr. Cameron's book where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies, specifically CRT and the transgender agenda.” The Library replied, “Thank you for thinking of us, but we are not interested in this program.”
One week later, on Tuesday, December 13, Library Director Elizabeth Bermel received a letter via USPS from Mr. Cameron requesting to rent the Scott Room. She sent an email to the contact mentioned in the letter with links to the Library’s Meeting Room Policy and the online form for room reservations. As of December 14, neither Mr. Cameron nor his representatives have completed the form to reserve the room.
It is the mission of the Scarsdale Public Library to encourage the joy of reading, the exploration of ideas, and the pursuit of lifelong learning for the children and adults of our community. Per the Library’s Meeting Room Policy:
The Library has several spaces available for members of the public to reserve and/or rent. These are to be used to further the Library’s informational, educational, cultural and recreational goals. It is the policy of the Library Board of Trustees to provide all members of the community with equal access to Library resources and facilities. Such resources and facilities are available equitably regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of those who seek to use them. Granting permission to use these rooms does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any individual or group by the Library, the Library Board of Trustees, or the Village of Scarsdale.
The full Meeting Room Policy can be found here: