I work at a public library. To say that the library attracts all kinds of patronage is an understatement. We attract everyone from the frugal upper-middle class (sometimes even the very wealthy, depending on what's going on during any given working day), to the homeless. Of course, this also includes everything from mildly religious people to an alarming number of people who see the Bible as the unfailing, perfect word of God. How do I know this, you ask? Simply by observing the books they check out and the attitude they display toward the secular material in the library. Of course, there is also a population of Mennonites that use the library and you can spot them at a glance because they dress like it's 1872 and the women wear those little caps on thier heads wherever they go (they make some hella-good baked goods and jams for our local farmers market, though - LOL).

What I observe is quite alarming. It makes me feel like there is no hope of this world ever being rid of the mental plague of religion; here's why: The religious people ONLY check out books and materials that do not, in any way, challenge their beliefs. They check out titles like 'Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back' (by Todd Burpo) and 'The Case for God' (by Karen Armstrong)... you get the idea; pretty much anything that is going to affirm their beliefs and not cause them to question anything. You almost never see them checking out any Sam Harris or Greg Epstein. This also applies to the fiction that they read. We have many authors, such as Karen Kingsbury, who write what I like to call "Christian Fluff". These are novels that are 'safe' for Christians to read. They are pre-filtered by the author of any violence, sex, or any other 'objectionable' material. As if ignoring reality will make it disappear. I realize that this is what their religion dictates they do - it's part of the reason that Christianity is self-propagating - but why is this not a red flag to these people? If I were in their shoes, I would want to know why I was not allowed to see certain materials, or why it is considered a sin to look at certain things. But, then, that's why I am an Atheist - I DID question religion. I DID research and came to my own conclusions. I know that a part of them is curious about the secular world, but they are so afraid that if they read materials that question their faith that they will lose faith all together. Well, if you are that afraid that a book or a movie is going to, in a sense, delete your belief in God, then isn't your faith a little shaky to begin with? If you are a TRUE believer and you are absolutely certain that there is a God, then how can a book or any other piece of media change that? And why can't they see this as a problem with the religion itself?

Of course, there is a certain number of them who are just appalled by anything secular and they are not going to give any of it a chance just due to their pure disgust of it. They see anything secular as against God and that automatically disqualifies that material in their mind. It's a loathing that I do not understand, but I see that it exsists non the less. It is a sad, narrow view of the world. I feel sorry for anyone who imposes such a limited world view upon themselves. Of course, most of them don't realize that they are free to chose not to believe this crap. They are too afraid to look any further than their religion dictates. Sad.

That all being said, I really have no problem with them checking out these useless items. I feel sorry for them, but if they want to waste their time and their lives reading and believing nonsense, then they can knock themselves out. I wish they wouldn't, because the more people that turn away from religion, the better our world will be, but to tell them this only makes them dig their heels in further and pray harder.  I am not allowed to comment on the materials that our patrons check out, anyway - it is our policy to make everyone as comfortable as possible when using the library. So, they are free to check out their nonsense books without fear of criticism, and that would all be fine and dandy if they would leave the rest of the library (the secular part) alone; but do you think they can? Oh, no!

We cannot keep a nicely stocked section on Atheism, Wicca, Paganism, Islam, Hindu or any other religion/world view because the Christians keep stealing the materials! I am not kidding! At least once a week a patron approaches me regarding a world religion book that is supposed to be in stock - aka on the shelf - and it is simply gone. I wouldn't blame the Christains, specifically, except that we actually caught a man who is a PASTOR trying to exit our building with a stack of these books. He told us that he had checked them out, but upon checking his account we discovered that he did not. That's lying AND stealing - all so people who want to be well informed about the world cannot get their hands on these materials.... as if this is going to cause them to turn to Christianity because that was their only choice at the public lobrary. LOL. Riiiiiight... It also serves the purpose of creating a negative image around people of alternate religions - as if they are the ones stealing the books. That's not to say that this does not happen, but more often than not it's the Christians trying to 'protect' everyone else from something that they deem harmful.

Add to this the fact that there are just some patrons who cannot keep their mouths shut about secular materials. Just last fall I had this man, who was wearing a cross around his neck large enough to crucify a small child, approach my desk. It was around Halloween, so we had many book displays stocked with books about the holiday. This included a display of children's books that contained Halloween themed stories. One of these was called 'Tilly Witch'. This man had a HUGE problem with this book because he believed that it advocated Witchcraft (Wicca) and that it was trying to push it onto small children. Mind you, this is a child's book - I read the whole thing from cover to cover in about five minutes, and it was just a story about a witch who had lost her ability to be wicked and how she found it again. Basically it was about knowing who you are. The man, of course, would never read such a thing so he had no idea what it was about. He just saw the witch on the cover and started assuming things (how does that old saying go?). He gave me the riot act over this book. It did not matter to him how many different ways I tried to explain that this was a PUBLIC library and that we did not censor our materials based on religious or any other content. When that was not a good enough explanation he began trash-talking the Wiccan religion. This crossed the line for me. I am not a Wiccan, but I used to be, and several of my friends are still. This man was trying to convince me that ALL Wiccans/pagans were bad people. That they were liars, thieves, and just evil in general. At this point I explained to him that he was crossing my line of morality and that he had no right to speak of another religion in this manner. At that point he assumed that I was Wiccan and wanted to discuss the fate of my 'imortal soul'. I had no interest in this and I told him so. At this point I was so upset that I was shaking and I had to get away before I blew my top. I retreated into the back room and he walked out the front door. About 30 seconds later he was back. He approached my co-worker, who had seen the whole scene go down, and asked where I had gone. She explained to him that I was not available and that if he needed any help that she would help him. This is not what he wanted, so he got really pushy about it and just kept asking for me. At this point it was clear that he was not going to leave unless a) I came out of the office and confronted him or b) I called security on him. Not wanting it to come to throwing him out of the library (I know, I know... I am TOO nice to these people), I came out and looked him right in the eye. I told him that I was not interested in talking to him about God, Jesus, or my immortal soul. I told him that I was very well informed about the Christian religion and that I did not believe any of it. I told him that there was nothing he could do or say to change my mind. His response to all of this was something like: "You don't know what I wanted to talk to you about! That's part of being a witch! You think you can read people's thoughts! You are an evil witch!" (LOL) At that point I said "You don't know me and you have no right to speak to me that way. I am NOT Wiccan, that is just something that you ASSUMED about me. I am going to walk away now and I am not going to come back. If you persist in this venture, I am going to call security." and I left; so did he. What a wack-job!

My latest iritation comes just this week. I was getting a book called "Unchristian" (by David Kinnaman) ready to send out to another library on inter-library loan. I flipped through the book to look for any old check-out slips and such, and I instantly flipped to a spot where there was a half-sheet of paper tucked into the book. I took it out and -low and behold- it is some pro-Jesus flier that someone had tucked into the book. Now, this book inparticular is written by a Christian about the way that other Christians act and treat their fellow man. It was NOT an anti-Christian book in any way, just the title seemed that way. I hoped that this was an isolated incident and that a Christian reader had just left the paper behind by mistake - perhapse they were using it as a bookmark - but I had to go and check the other books on the shelf that appeared to be 'unchristian' in some way. You guessed it! There was one of these sheets tucked into every book title in the religion section that appeared to be non-Christian in nature. Every. Single. One. This pisses me off to no end. If I were to tuck pro-Atheist propaganda into all the Christian titles, there would be an uproar and an OUTRAGE over it!!! What, exactly, are they trying to accomplish here? Do they honestly think that if they cram this shit in our face enough times that we will beleive it? Most of us turned away from Christianity because of all the cramming-it-down-your-throat behavoir; it is certainly not going to turn anyone the other way!

These people frustrate me to no end. There is no gain to be had by this kind of behavior. All it does is confirm to me that they are all wasting their time studying, advocating, and worshiping something that is, quite simply, not there.

Peace.

 

Views: 298

Comment by Laura Benedict on September 3, 2011 at 5:31pm

This reminds me of the time I had to remove one of those dern papers from the freaking gas pump! Fanatics

Comment by Rick on September 3, 2011 at 6:52pm

Hahahaha! I lost it when the JC Super-star wanted to discuss the fate of your ‘immortal soul.’  

 

This is unbelievable… pastors stealing books, tucking propaganda into books they never read. Who has this kind of time?

 

Thanks for sharing. It would be great if you’d post more stories as they come up. No doubt you haven’t heard the last of the library crusaders.

Comment by James on September 3, 2011 at 9:37pm

Wow, that was a great read! Thanks for sharing. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when you told that one guy to piss off. My wife (Wiccan) especially liked that story.

Comment by Ronald on September 3, 2011 at 10:10pm
WOW, just wow!

*That's part of being a witch! You
think you can read people's thoughts!
You are an evil witch!

I literally laughed out loud at that part. Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Grux on September 3, 2011 at 10:17pm

I took my kids to the library this morning.  We went to the Juvenile Non-Fiction section looking for a book on Helen Keller for my 9 year old to read.  While browsing through the selection of biographies of religious figures including Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa, there is a biography of Jesus next to these two figures.  Still astounded, but I shouldn't be as I reside in Tennessee, that this book was not in the religious section.

Comment by Garrett Taffer on September 3, 2011 at 10:39pm

Your story was interesting. Censorship and religious backlash against the expansion of knowledge be damned.

 

On the flip side of this, I was trying to obtain the audio version of God is Not Great at my library. I was assisted by an older gentleman, who gave a very low tsk tsk when I asked where it might be. He did help me find it, though. I gave him a polite thank you. I got a similar treatment at the front desk when I checked out, I also had one of Dawkins' book. The young man gave me a bit of a stare. I had a smile on my face. How else was I suppose to react? Anger? Frustration? 

How does a religious person volunteer at a library, knowing that there are 'evil' books around them that people can check out and come away from God?

Comment by Samantha J. on September 4, 2011 at 11:15am

I've never heard of that. When I was in high school a few of my friends and I tucked in papers about being a "Nerdfighter" into books written by the guy who made it up, but that was about being someone who was considered a nerd in school to have an online community with. O.o Kind of like TA for nerds in high school. But that was about ACCEPTANCE, as juvenile as it was, it was NEVER about religion or changing who you were, it was about being yourself! How do these people not see that this is all hate speech?

Comment by Amy L. Cook on September 4, 2011 at 11:41am

I will most definately continue to share stories as they happen. I am sure that there will be an endless supply. I love that I can come here and get all of this of my chest without fear of someone getting all righteous on me!

Garrett T. - Your experience at the library fills me with both outrage and fear. People like that do not belong at a public library. It should be rule number one that anyone on a quest for knowledge - of any kind - should be honroed that quest. That is the pupose of the library... it's what it was founded upon. These people who 'helped' you are only full of fear. They are afraid that, because you exhibit signs of not believing in their God, if they do not treat you in some negative fashion that it will be advocating atheism and they will burn in hell. At this point, their need to uphold and defend their beliefs has trumped their need to be kind to their fellow man. Funny - this is EXACTLY what the book 'Unchristian' is about (lol). I wonder why they think this is the Christian way to act. Despite their incredibly abhorrent and violent history (which most of them choose to completely ignore), they want to be seen as this pious, perfect, peaceful sect of humanity; yet their first response to any questioning of their faith is anything but pretty. In fact, it's very, very ugly. You challenged their faith just by wanting to read this material. They were forced to help you find and check out said material because it is their job to do so; and this is exactly why people like that do not belong in a secular library; they should go volunteer at their church. That atheists exsist to begin with is a challenge to their faith. If God was so perfect, no one would question him. This is exactly the same behavior, on a much smaller scale, for which they would condemn Muslim extremists. Kill the infedel! Or, in their case, hate-on the infedel! Try and make him feel like less of a person! (lol). Ugly, ugly.

I have found that there are many people that have entirely the wrong view of their public library. They see it as a public institution, and they have it in their minds that the USA is a 'Christian Nation', so they think that we should only be informing the public about Christianity (or Christinsanity, as I like to call it). For some reason there is this fear that if we turn away from God, this will no longer be a great country. I say spreading hate and lies is no way to run a country. But I am 'preaching to the choir' on that one, eh?

We have a whole bunch of these Christinsane books that compare Chistinsanity to almost every other world religion. With titles like "What's the Deal with Wicca?: A Deeper Look into the dark Side of Today's Witchcraft" (by Steve Russo)... Shame on you, Steve Russo. First of all, anyone who knows ANYTHING about real, actual Wicca knows that it is ANYTHING but dark. It is a peacful, nature-loving practice that advocates preserving and celebrating the natural world. Any kind of alteration to this, aka a turn to the 'dark side', would no longer be considered Wicca. Yeah, I have no doubt that there are sects of Pagan people who have taken Wiccan lore and altered it to suit their own, personal specifications. This happens in EVERY RELIGION and Christinsanity is certainly no exception. However, if a pagan people started performing dark, evil rituals, it would simply not be Wicca any more. Wicca may be (depending on who you talk to, of course, as I have actually known a few Wiccan Zealots who insist that their way is the only correct way) a much looser religion than most as far as what you want to practice and/or believe, but their first and ONLY rule is 'An it harm none, do what thou wilt'. HARM NONE!!! Anything that harms anyone or anything would be considered a break fron the Wiccan tradition and would be something else entirely. It is completely unfair to lump these people in with the Wiccan crede. DO YOUR HOMEWORK, STEVE RUSSO! STOP SPREADING LIES TO SUIT YOUR O

Comment by Jason on September 4, 2011 at 11:51am

Hmmmm. And I guess you would get in trouble if you filed all the religious books under FICTION.

Comment by J D History on September 4, 2011 at 12:01pm

"How do these people not see that this is all hate speech?"

You have to understand that these creatures do not subscribe to rational thought the way the rest of us do.  They are the "intellectual" antecedents of today's hardcore Republicans, tea party pitchfork carriers, free marketeers, Marxist remnants...the list is endless.  The common characteristic is that they all have an unquestioning, dogmatic allegiance to some totalitarian metaphysic.  Right, wrong, good, bad, truth, falsehood, and everything else are defined, for these people, by whether or not it promotes their narrow weltanschaung.  Even if it violates the fundamental principles of their program the end justifies the means.  There is no reasoning with them.  They are immune to it.  As Helen asserted in another blog post, the only justification for rhetorical fencing with them is that, unlike people of good faith, they are legitimate targets for all your creative sarcasm and invective.  

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