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I am not a fan of Kirk Cameron. Let’s just get that out of way right out of the box.

The star of a mediocre situation comedy from the 1980s, Cameron has in recent years become better known as a darling of the evangelical right. He regularly comments disparagingly about the LGBTQ+ community and hits various other hot-button culture war issues, all under the banner of “protecting the family.” One of the main reasons I am not a Kirk Cameron aficionado is that his definition of family is far too narrow. When he talks about families he means shiny, happy middle-class families with a mommy and a daddy and 2.6 well-adjusted children. He is not talking about the multitude of families that have a different (Cameron would probably say deviant) makeup. His promotion of activities and attitudes that are by his definition “family friendly” and his denigration of those that are not rubs me the wrong way.

In my understanding of the Bible and Christology Jesus was and is the epitome of gracious acceptance of all persons. He personifies the extravagant welcome that we as a UCC congregation proclaim. Jesus consistently crossed boundaries in his ministry. He practiced table fellowship with tax collectors and “sinners,” he healed everyone who came to him with an illness, he mediated God’s forgiveness of sins, and in many and various ways he took his big pink eraser to the lines and borders the Kirk Camerons of his time kept drawing to categorize and separate people from one another and, if it were possible, from God.

Cameron’s Jesus does not much resemble the Jesus of the previous paragraph. His Jesus and the God he represents are narrow and pinched, like stereotypical spinster aunts tsk-tsking their way through life, more concerned with right behavior than loving hearts and spiritual freedom. That Cameron and people like him get so much press as supposed spokespersons for American Christianity really bugs me.

Well, it seems that Mr. Cameron has written a book. It’s a book for children, designed to “train them up in the way they should go,” as a verse from Proverbs puts it, and as part of a massive book launch he has scheduled a “See You at the Library” event for a Saturday in August. People from Cameron’s “tribe” plan to descend upon public libraries all over the country to hold wholesome “pro-family” and “pro-faith” activities. It’s all an effort to counter the recent trend of “drag queen story hours” at these same libraries.

Apparently, some members of the American Library Association (ALA), which receives some federal funds, are not fans of Kirk Cameron, either. We know this because the recording of a Zoom call has surfaced with leaders in the ALA counseling local librarians how to go about keeping Cameron’s groups from scheduling and holding their events. I watched part of the video, and they weren’t subtle about it. Their obvious goal was to stop Cameron’s “See You at the Library” campaign dead in its tracks.

That is not acceptable. Not just because the ALA receives federal money, although that is concerning as well, but because they are attempting to curtail the speech of an American citizen based on their disagreement with the content of that speech. I have already stated my opposition to Cameron’s so-called pro-family message, but I will always defend his right to communicate that message in the public square. I would like to have the opportunity to try to change his opinion on certain matters, and he should have the right to try to convince me to change mine.

We have too many people in this country willing to shout their own screed but unwilling to listen to any opposing viewpoints. As I have said in the past, it seems as though every American comes equipped with a bullhorn and a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Let us set an example by taking off those headphones and learning to speak in a normal, unamplified voice. “Let us reason together,” God says to the Israelites in Isaiah 1:18. That’s a good policy for all of us.

Grace and peace,