Kirk Cameron drew another large crowd and some protesters at a reading of his children’s book in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the latest stop on his national library tour offering an alternative to drag queen story hours.
Hundreds of parents, children and supporters arrived Friday at the Fayetteville Public Library to see Mr. Cameron read his Christian-themed children’s book “As You Grow,” published by Brave Books, as did a cluster of sign-carrying demonstrators, some dressed in drag.
“We wanted to be a light for the children that are here and might feel ostracizing in their own family,” “Sister Annie Philaxis,” a member of the drag group the Hillbilly Harlots, told 5News.
They were outnumbered by enthusiastic parents like Mandy Brooks, who said that she and her children came to see Mr. Cameron because “we love these Brave Books, we love our country, and we just wanted to come here and be part of what he’s doing.”
This was the sixth stop by Mr. Cameron on the Freedom Island Tour, launched earlier this year after Brave Books said that more than 50 public libraries rejected or ignored requests to host the well-known Christian actor, despite sponsoring drag queens readings for children.
Mr. Cameron said afterward the event drew a “small group of protesters, which included some grown men wearing silly makeup, dressed in skirts and heels, pretending to be women.”
Brave Books estimated that about 500 people attended the children’s reading.
Outside the library, about a dozen protesters waved signs and did chalk art on the sidewalk. No incidents were reported.
https://t.co/I0cpCqfG0B (March 18, 2023; 7:37 HKT) #ARKANSAS
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“In coming to Fayetteville, Arkansas we expected to get a ton of supportive Christian and conservative families to show up,” said Brave Books chief of staff Zac Bell in a statement. “What we did not expect was for a group of drag queens and activists to attend and walk up and down the event giving the children in attendance the creeps.”
Appearing with Mr. Cameron was Laura Perry Smalts, author of the 2019 book “Transgender to Transformed,” an account of how she turned to Christianity after spending nine years living as a transgender man.
She read “Elephants Are Not Birds,” written by Ashley St. Clair and published by Brave Books, which “teaches children that boys are not girls and elephants are not birds.”
Ms. Perry Smalts said the book shows “that even though the elephant, Kevin, wanted to be like the birds, the town needed him to be an elephant and he became a hero. I think this book has an excellent message for children.”
She asked the children in the audience, “Do you think elephants can be birds, even if they strap on silly wings and a beak?”
“In unison, and with great laughter, all 300 children confessed with gusto, ‘No!’” said Mr. Cameron in a statement afterward. “I felt sad for the men in skirts. As it is written, ‘You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies.’”
In addition to reading his book, Mr. Cameron, the former teen star of ABC-TV’s “Growing Pains,” led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the national anthem.
That didn’t sit well with at least one of the protesters. Clint Schneckloth, pastor of the progressive Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, called the event “overwhelming and far weirder and scarier than I had even imagined it would be.”
“They had the group sing the national anthem AND say the pledge and the loudest applause throughout the event was for nationalist/patriotic stuff even more than the Christian crap,” said Mr. Schnekloth in a Friday post on Facebook.
Brave Books founder Trent Talbot accused the drag queens of seeking to “force disturbing views on these innocent kids.”
“The left’s predatory behavior is just another conspiracy theory exposed as a fact,” he said.
Brave Books canceled plans for a Sunday reading featuring Mr. Talbot and Chaya Raichik, better known as Libs of TikTok, in New York City, citing security concerns.
The event was intended to compete with the Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon hosted by New York Attorney General Letitia James and other state Democrats at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan.