“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Pastor Phil Missick of the Kings of Saints Tabernacle in Cleveland, Texas most likely approves wholeheartedly of the first part of that Amendment, but when it comes to the part about free speech and freedom of the press, he is not quite so enthusiastic.
Missick has demanded that the Austin Memorial Library, Cleveland’s public library, remove books from the shelves in their young adult section that he deems to be “harmful” to young minds.
“Just because they read it, doesn’t mean that’s what they really need,” Missick told ABC13.
Missick wants all titles that address what he refers to as “the occult” and the “demonic” removed from the library. Among the books that Missick has called for a ban on are the Twilight Saga, Vampire Knight and Blood Promise.
In a feeble attempt to defend his demand for censorship Missick said:
“I am not saying that the library shouldn’t have information on the occult since it is part of our history, but there is an overwhelming amount and the books appear to be targeting teens.”
In a petition which Missick has presented to the city council, he demands that:
“[The] occultic and demonic room be shut down, and these books be purged from the shelves, and that public funds would no longer be used to purchase such material, or at least require parents to check them out for their children.”
The city would not allow the library to respond to media requests for comments, but ABC13 has obtained copies of correspondence between Missick and head librarian Mary Merrell Cohn in which she addressed his demands and explained library policies concerning minors checking out materials:
“The library is a public library, open to all, no matter their age, race, sexual orientation, religious preferences or social economic standing. City Council adopted the ‘Library Bill of Rights’ [that] states, ‘Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves …. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
No child can check out material unless their parent or guardian signs them up for a card … Since the majority of the children using the library come with their parents, I believe this is a moot point.”
Cohn also pointed out to reporters that the library also has copies of the most banned book in history — The Holy Bible.
Watch a report from ABC13 below.