CLEVELAND, Texas – Several Christian leaders in Texas are urging a local library to remove books for teenagers that deal with vampires and other ‘demonic’ content.
Phillip Missick, pastor of King of Saints Tabernacle in east Texas, recently testified at a Cleveland City Council meeting. According to local reports, Missick told city council members that a section of Cleveland’s Austin Memorial Library is inappropriate, because it features dozens of books for teen audiences that deal with black magic and vampires.
“There are 75 books, according to the library, that deal with the occult in the teen section,” Missick told city leaders, according to YourHoustonNews.com. “On the top shelf, there is a demonic stuffed doll and a witch’s hat.”
Missick said he is not necessarily opposed to all books about the occult, but he believes the library has an excessive number of such books aimed at teenagers.
“I am not saying that the library shouldn’t have information on the occult since it is part of our history,” he said, “but there is an overwhelming amount and the books appear to be targeting teens.”
The books mentioned by Missick include the popular Twilight and House of Night series, which have both sold millions of copies and primarily target younger reading audiences.
“We’re not afraid to discuss things that are actually happening,” House of Night’s co-author, Kristin Cast, once told reporters. “Our characters cuss because teenagers cuss. There are issues with sex, drinking and pot because those are issues teenagers deal with. Some people don’t like it, but I think the audience is drawn to that realness.”
The authors of the House of Night series acknowledge that their works are “heavily pagan and Wiccan based, with a huge influx of Native American myth and legend.” Similarly, the Twilight series has been described as an “exquisite fantasy” with a “gripping blend of romance and horror.”
According to Missick, these dark themes are inappropriate for teen readers in a public library. Several other Christians in the area, including James Holt of Cornerstone Church of Cleveland, agree with Missick’s conclusion.
“What you read does have an influence on your life and the library needs to be careful with what kind of books need to be on the shelf,” Holt argued.
“The word ‘censorship’ is not an ugly word,” he added. “If you don’t censor what your children see, hear and read, then guess what? Your child is going to be spending a lot of time … later on in life dealing with twisted-up and torn-up lives.”
“The word ‘no’ is not a bad thing,” Holt continued. “The word ‘no’ can come from a place of love. It’s our job to protect them, even when it comes to literature and art.”
So far, public library officials have said they will not remove the provocative books from the shelves, even though Missick gave the Cleveland City Council a petition that urged the “occultic and demonic” books to “be purged from the shelves.” The Austin Memorial Library’s head librarian, Mary Merrell Cohn, responded to Missick’s request by saying the library wants books of all types to be available for readers.
“Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves,” Cohn said. “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”
Cohn told Missick that the library’s collection includes the Bible. Therefore, she argued, the vampire books should be permitted.
Nevertheless, Missick, Holt, and several others want the books to be removed.
“[They are] dark,” Missick told KTRK. “ There’s a sexual element. You have creatures that aren’t human. I think it’s dangerous for our kids.”