Chelmsford Public Library in Massachusetts canceled a local minister’s Pastor Story Hour event after pressure from residents.
The promotion of the LGBTQ movement among young children through the Drag Queen Story Hour trend has recently garnered national headlines, leading pastors across the country to reserve spaces at their local libraries and host events during which children can discover biblical teachings about gender and sexuality. Kendall Lankford, teaching pastor of The Shepherd’s Church, had scheduled one such event on Friday at Chelmsford Public Library and told The Daily Wire that he expected between 50 and 75 children to attend the program.
Chelmsford Public Library posted a statement on Wednesday that addressed controversy regarding the event and reminded residents that the program was entirely optional. “Use of a library meeting room by a nonprofit does not indicate endorsement by the library,” the statement said. “We support your individual choices as to what to attend and do not advertise or promote any non-library meetings on the library calendar.”
Residents nevertheless flooded the comments section with claims that Lankford was seeking to “indoctrinate youth” into bigotry. “By allowing hate into your library you’re implicitly saying to vulnerable populations that they’re not safe there,” one commenter said. “This is blatant discrimination, homophobia, bigotry, transphobia,” added another.
A subsequent statement posted on Thursday announced that Chelmsford Public Library directors and trustees decided to preemptively cancel Lankford’s reservation based on violations of “acceptable behavior policies.” Officials claimed the event would contradict policies against proselytizing and said publicity from The Shepherd’s Church improperly indicated that the library was co-sponsoring their program.
Lankford told The Daily Wire that he has retained legal counsel and lamented that officials nixed the program.
“With less than twenty four hours before our Pastor Story Hour, the Chelmsford Public Library appears to have caved to mounting pressure in the community to have our event canceled. We are very disappointed in the outcome and disappointed for all of the children that we had invited, who were excited that an event like this could occur,” he said. “We believe that God will get the glory from this and that this discrimination against our biblical worldview will be swiftly corrected.”
Pastor Story Hour events across the country have faced opposition from residents. Activists revealed their intentions to organize a rival event at the same time as a Pastor Story Hour hosted by Owen Strachan, the provost of Grace Bible Theological Seminary in Conway, Arkansas. Libraries in New York and Indiana reversed course after initially canceling events hosted by Christian actor and conservative activist Kirk Cameron.
During his interview earlier this week with The Daily Wire, Lankford cited commandments to “equip, train, and raise up the next generation of children in the fear and admonition of the Lord,” as well as “take that commitment for home discipleship and expand it to the nations.”
“Christ has a vision for the entire world and not just for our homes, which means that the scope of the gospel, the goal for which the Church is laboring, will not be accomplished until all the children of the world come under God’s blessing and have been taught a biblical worldview,” Lankford commented. “With that, the drag queens in particular, and the LGBTQ movement in general, are the ones who are truly on the wrong side of history. And I will admit, the church has much work to accomplish until that work is finished, but sloth, apathy, and hiding our heads in the proverbial sand will certainly not get us there.”