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An insert in the bulletin at the Catholic Church in Salida on Easter Sunday announced something called the Rosary Rally, set for 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, across the street from the Salida Regional Library located at 405 E Street in Salida. What it really means is that an attempt at book banning has come home to Chaffee County.

“You are invited to a ‘Rosary Rally’ to bring public awareness to the perversion that is being pushed into our nation’s children at their schools and libraries,” adds the message of the flier. “Let us pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for her intercession.”

The flip side lists 13 books to be used as a guide calling them “porn and LGBT books”. But the book titles range from “I am Jazz” to “Our Work is Everywhere”, to “Rainbow Boys”, “The God Box” and “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.”

The flier adds this message from Robert Ritchie, who is the Director of America Needs Fatima, a cover organization for a far-right front group that began initially to confront communism and promote conservative virtues. “If you need help with your rally, do not hesitate to call us … and don’t forget to email photos of your rally to”

The flip side of the Rosary Rally includes a list of books deemed by the effort as “perversion that is being pushed into our nation’s children at their schools and libraries. Courtesy image

It should be pointed out that banning books runs counter to the First Amendment to the American Constitution, which protects five freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion; freedom to assemble, freedom of the press, and the freedom to petition our government for grievances.

“You don’t have to read it — you don’t have to check it out. But you can’t restrict the freedom of others just because you don’t like something”, said Salida Regional Library System Librarian Susan Matthews.

‘Banning books and burning books are done for the same reason,” said 100-year-old Grace Linn, a member of the Velshi Banned Book Club this past Sunday morning. “Fear is control. It’s against freedom and democracy.”

“There’s no difference — you’re removing something,” agreed Matthews. “It’s against the library bill of rights, and it’s against democracy. Our point is the library is here to ensure the freedom of information and not everybody agrees with that. But it’s a First Amendment right.”

“I don’t think there’s any accident here — we were kind of expecting it in the Colorado Library System,” said Buena Vista Public Library Head Librarian Cecilia LaFrance, who added that Buena Vista (like Salida) is part of Prospector, a library lending arrangement of 300 participating libraries. “We have seen an uptick in reactions and challenges and it reflects a community — I won’t be surprised if it comes this way.”

LaFrance said she’d done some research and, “The movement is national. There are big name groups, and religious groups spurring people to step up and hold things like a Rosary Rally.”

The Rosary Rally is set for April 19 across from the Salida Regional Library.

The America Needs Fatima Org is a front for a Catholic-based anti-LGBTQ ‘special campaign’ of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), a Catholic 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. They are well-funded, with more than $19 million in donor money to advocate against abortion, the LGBTQ+ community and books they find objectional.

Over the past few years of conservative advances, especially those who are supporters of former president Donald Trump, librarians have begun to see attacks on the contents of their libraries. The library bill of rights that Matthews referenced reinforces that their repositories should include books and other resources for a diverse group of people. It is not their role to withhold information based on somebody else’s preferences.

“When someone moves to ban a book it elevates the book,” commented LaFrance. “When we narrow it down to these topics, we get just as many people who don’t agree with the violence and sex in crime novels — say it’s a John Sanford book, for instance. We certainly want to hear the views if a book is not in its proper space. I’ve found that differences can be resolved with a conversation.”

“Usually when people are trying to ban a book, the intention is they think they are helping somebody. But you don’t know what other people are going through,” said Matthews. “People see different things as controversial – our selection is not going to be chosen by the anticipated approval or disapproval of someone.”

She agreed with the concept that the responsibility for the material that a child reads is up to the parent or legal guardian. “We aren’t their parent. What kids are reading in a book is so less offensive than what they can access on social media.”

Asked about the list of books contained in the flier, Matthews said “I know all of them, but we don’t own all of them. In fact, we have four on that list, physically, but we share resources with 30-some libraries.” She explained that this library-sharing program means that smaller libraries don’t need to buy all the books to have access to them. “The irony,” said Matthews, “Is that since this flier was circulated, they have since been checked out.”

“I hate saying ‘banned books’ — it comes down to the freedom of information – intellectual freedom,” adds Matthews. “People are very strong in certain beliefs — for instance, take cookbooks. One person says ‘I only eat Kosher’ and another is a vegan or only eats a Mediterranean diet — they certainly aren’t going to agree on which cookbooks we should have on a shelf.”

“One message we want to get out – the books on the list, they are wonderful books about tolerance and this is a Christian value,” added LaFrance.