FFRF Action Fund is bestowing its “Secularist of the Week” award on the beloved host of “Reading Rainbow” for calling out Moms for Liberty while denouncing as “Theocrats of the Week” the members of a Kansas city commission for forcing a library to remove youth books on LGBTQ-plus issues.
During the opening remarks of the recent 74th National Book Awards & Benefit Dinner in New York City, LeVar Burton, also famous for his role as Geordi LaForge on “Star Trek: the Next Generation,” made his stance on book censorship and hate-fueled “advocacy” clear.
Burton began his speech with a joke aimed at the conservative organization Moms for Liberty, a hate group that is one of the most radical book-banning crusaders. Burton joked, “Before we get going, are there any Moms for Liberty in the house? Moms for Liberty? No? Good! Then hands will not need to be thrown tonight.”
Since its founding in January 2021, Moms for Liberty has advocated against any mention of LGBTQ-plus rights, gender and identity, race and ethnicity or critical race theory in school curricula. It has amassed approximately 103,000 members across 278 chapters and 45 states and its revenue has skyrocketed to $2.1 million in 2022, up from $370,000 in 2021.
Burton, recently named the honorary chair of Banned Books Week, warns, “Books are under attack. They’re being removed from libraries and schools. Shelves have been emptied because of a small number of people and their misguided efforts towards censorship.” An example of what Burton is warning about recently took place at a library in Kansas, which was forced to remove all youth LGBTQ-plus books in order to keep its lease.
The St. Marys branch of the Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library lost its long-running battle with city commissioners, all of whom are connected with an extremist Christian sect aiming to have LGBTQ-plus content banned. The City Commission does not have authority over the library itself but leveraged the library’s lease agreement against the library to further the commissioners’ reactionary agenda. Consequently, the library was required to take all LGBTQ-plus materials off the shelves in its youth collection as a stipulation to renew their lease.
When discussing the decision, library Director Judith Cremer said, “I’m not real proud of that … I feel bad because I think there should be a variety of things for everybody.”
St. Marys Mayor Matthew Childs, also serving on the City Commission, first attempted to remove all LGBTQ-plus and socially divisive books from the library through a clause in its lease, but the attempt was thwarted due to public outrage.
The St. Marys City Commission, alongside the town mayor, has undeniably earned FFRF Action Fund’s “Theocrats of the Week” title for its poisonous work. With champions like LeVar Burton fighting against such dangerous censorship and discrimination, FFRF Action Fund is confident anti-censorship forces will ultimately prevail. We urge all of our advocates to speak out firmly against Moms For Liberty and the insidious suppression of the right to read.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.