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While parents fight for children’s innocence, Illinois has made it illegal to remove sexually explicit books from public libraries


“We want a place that is family-friendly, that follows the community consensus, where our values are upheld, not a place where parents…have to hawkishly watch their children when they’re in a child’s section of a library to make sure that they don’t pull something that’s more graphic than the latest issue of Hustler.”


The state of Illinois has stepped into the controversial battle over so-called “book bans” by passing a “first of its kind” law that will pull funding from any public library that tries to remove sexually explicit or even pornographic books from their shelves — even as more and more parents fight to keep sexually explicit materials away from their children.

Quick Facts

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law on June 12 that threatens to withhold grant funding from any library that bans specific books. HB 2789 says the state should “encourage and protect the freedom of libraries and library systems to acquire materials without external limitation and to be protected against attempts to ban, remove, or otherwise restrict access to books or other materials.”

The Illinois State Librarian and the Illinois State Library staff are required to “adopt the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights that indicates materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval” and “prohibit the practice of banning specific books or resources.”

Pritzker stated when signing the bill, “Here in Illinois, we don’t hide from the truth, we embrace it. Young people shouldn’t be kept from learning about the realities of our world. I want them to become critical thinkers, exposed to ideas that they disagree with, proud of what our nation has overcome, and thoughtful about what comes next. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the books they read, the art they see, the history they learn. In Illinois, we are showing the nation what it really looks like to stand up for liberty.”

Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D, sponsor of the law said, “While it’s true that kids need guidance, and that some ideas can be objectionable, trying to weaponize local government to force one-size-fits-all standards onto the entire community for reasons of bigotry, or as a substitute for active and involved parenting, is wrong.”

It’s important to remember that the ALA, whose bill of rights Illinois’ commands libraries to obey, was a part of the Supreme Court case United States v. American Library Association in which the ALA tried to get the court to declare the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) unconstitutional. The CIPA requires libraries that receive federal funding to install filters on computers that prevent access to visual images of obscenities and child pornography. For computers accessible by minors, images or videos that are “harmful to minors” must be filtered.

The filters can be disabled for an adult for “bona fide research or other lawful purpose.” ALA claimed the law required libraries to violate the First Amendment rights of those using the library and web publishers.

In Front Royal, Virginia, however, parents are showing why so many Americans no longer trust the judgment of  librarians to determine what books their children should be allowed to read. Parents at the Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting on June 6 came out in force to demand that county leaders use the power of the purse to force Samuels Public Library to remove pornographic materials.

During the meeting, parents read sections of sexually explicit books that have been approved by librarians and made available in prominent displays, as well as the children’s section.

Video and transcripts of the meeting are available here, but the Freedom Center wants to issue a warning that some of the excerpts are extremely graphic and perverse, which is why we will not be including any of the contents of these books in this article.

Some of the 34 books parents have flagged as “pornographic” include pictures of people and teens engaging in sexual acts, graphic descriptions of sexual activity, or are fictitious narratives that describe characters having sexual relations. Many of the books describe or depict homosexual activity and activity that’s described as “kink.”

After reading a section from one of the books out loud, one father said, “This is not literature. This is smut.”

Another parent who read from one of the books stated, “I think this has made many people uncomfortable, and if it’s making us as adults uncomfortable, then it is destroying the innocence of our children.”

CleanUp Samuels, a group leading the charge on this effort, is demanding that the county government use its budget process to force the library to remove pornographic books from the children’s section;  sever its ties with the American Library Association; and replace current library staff with those who are devoted to “safeguarding the well-being and innocence” of children “by advocating for a safe and enriching environment in the children’s section” of public libraries.

Thomas Hinkle, a member of the group, told the Washington Examiner:

“We want a place that is family-friendly, that follows the community consensus, where our values are upheld, not a place where parents…have to hawkishly watch their children when they’re in a child’s section of a library to make sure that they don’t pull something that’s more graphic than the latest issue of Hustler.”

Pritzker claims Illinois doesn’t hide from the truth, but that’s a lie. Illinois is hiding from the truth that transgender ideology is harmful and shouldn’t be pushed on children. It’s also hiding from the truth that these books are a perverse attempt to sexualize children. No one should read books like these — but definitely not children.

In a nation where sexually explicit images and themes have proliferated throughout our media and entertainment industries, the Illinois law is advancing evil with policies that expose children to explicit material at younger and younger ages, robbing them of their innocence and breaking down their natural boundaries to potential predators.

There is no right to taxpayer-funded pornography for children and teens.

1 Corinthians 6:18 states,

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

All sin is harmful, but sexual sin is especially so because it enslaves a person to lust and damages the way they see themselves and others. Children must not be exposed to sexual immorality or sexual content when they are still so impressionable and while their minds are still developing. Public libraries are no place for pornography and parents have every right to protect their children from ideas and images that do lasting damage.

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.

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