My Little Town

I live in a small town in Calvert County, one of the oldest counties in Maryland. My town is 45 miles southeast of Washington, DC but is far removed from the surreal atmosphere of our nation's capital, and that's how I prefer it. The rural landscape and homespun atmosphere make it a wonderful place to live and raise a family. "Keep Calvert Country" is the rallying cry of long-time residents and while our "Congressman for Life" Steny Hoyer and all but one of our Maryland state legislators are Democrats thanks to some crafty redistricting on their part, Calvert County is a red county in a blue state with a Republican majority on the county commission and a Republican sheriff, treasurer and state's attorney. In every Presidential election since 1980, Calvert County has gone to the Republican nominee. You would think my town would be inoculated against the culture war raging in our country. You would be wrong. A mother complained to our local library about a book her 7-year old daughter brought home from the children's section and which she discovered was a veiled propaganda piece advocating same-sex relationships. The book, "And Tango Makes Three," is a true story about two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo that were given an egg to hatch together because of the apparent affection they were showing toward one another. The zookeeper named the hatchling Tango, a reference to the old saying "it takes two to tango." The watercolor illustrations and the cheerful narrative disguise the true intent of the book which is to persuade our children that homosexual relationships are perfectly normal and natural, their parents' teachings and values be damned. These parents weren't the first to pick up on this; the American Library Association said "Tango" was the most challenged book of 2006 and 2007.

This mother and three others requested that the book be reshelved in a more appropriate section of the library where four-to-eight year old children couldn't scoop it up and hand it to their parents to check out for them. It seemed like a win-win suggestion; the book remains in the public library in a section where people looking for that topic can find it, and parents can check out books for their children without fearing a hidden agenda that undermines their authority as primary nurturers and caregivers.

Judging from the reaction, one would have thought these mothers requested a book burning in the town square. People wrote angry letters to the editor questioning their parenting skills, commitment to the First Amendment, disrespect for diversity, and lack of tolerance, a word twisted by the liberals to where it no longer means putting up with something or someone unpleasant, but now means total acceptance - George Orwell would have been proud. Even the ACLU got in the mix, hovering just in case they were needed. The local paper that is independently owned and operated endorsed the mothers' proposal while the local paper owned by the Washington Post Company said the book should stay where it is.

The controversy also brought out the "cafeteria Christians," the ones who want to pick and choose from God's table rather than consume the full meal. They bleat about how Jesus loved everyone and condemned no one, conveniently overlooking his command to "go and sin no more." Jesus loves us unconditionally but he expects us to demonstrate our love for Him through total obedience, declaring "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?" Just like a parent loves his or her child unconditionally but holds them accountable for their actions, so is Christ with us. Showing Christ's love to others doesn't mean I accept their behavior or pretend that God approves when He doesn't. It certainly doesn't mean I surrender my child rearing responsibilities to a world that disrespects my role as a parent and tries to usurp me at every turn. God commands me, not the library, not the entertainment industry, not the schools, to "teach a child in the way he should go." I don't need their "help."

Ultimately, the library decided to keep the book where it is and offered directional aids and training to assist parents in making acceptable book choices for their children. And so it goes; the school won't administer an aspirin to my daughter without my permission but the state of Maryland will let her have an abortion without notifying me or my wife. My son is encouraged to read about gay penguins but he'll get nervous stares from the teachers if he's reading a Bible. There's no rest for the culture warrior, not even in my little town.