PEQUOT, SD --- It began ten years ago, when Pastor Brian Frank of Pequot's Christ Anger Church during one of his sermons tore the Song of Solomon out of his Bible, exhorted the congregation to do the same, and burned the offensive verses right in front of the pulpit. That memorable day was the beginning of a new Christmas tradition in Pequot, a town of some 700 souls, located in the south eastern tip of South Dakota.
Over the years, Pequot's Christmas book burning has grown from a one-day event to a solemn observation of all twelve days of Christmas.
Pastor Frank said the event has nothing to do with censorship.
"I know all these Hollywood liberals down in Sioux City (Iowa) are getting their undies in wad over it," he scoffed. "But returning our nation back to its Christian roots has absolutely nothing to do with censorship. All we did in the beginning was to purge the Bible from false and immoral teachings, and from there our efforts turned into a more far-reaching endeavor."
Most of the books burned this year were taken from the Pequot High School library.
Ray Knudsen, P.T.A. President, explained, "We went to the school library, because around here, people don't read that much, so we really don't own that many books. And heck! If you need books, what better place to go than the library?"
Knudsen explained that in previous years, the school librarian resisted Pastor Frank's efforts on ethical grounds.
"Well, she got suspended for drinking on the job," he added, smiling broadly. "Now one of the church custodians has taken her job, and we've had no problems whatsoever."
Pequot's youngsters have actually taken their textbooks to the Christmas burning this year. They say book burnings aren't about censorship at all. They're really about freedom of expression.
Throwing his ninth grade literature book into the flames, seventeen year-old Alex Carrol said, "I got a chance to show how I really feel about what's being taught, you know. Like I really hate Poe. We had to read a poem called ‘The Raven'. It's about a man who sees a raven and worships the devil. And that's against my religion."
Asked if that was what his English teacher really said, Alex replied, "Well, I was too busy writing reports on her, so I didn‘t really pay any attention. She's real mean, marking us tardy when we come late and flunking us for getting, like, fifties on our tests. We're trying to get her fired. But anyways, Poe was an evil, self-centered poem writing freak. I'm glad he's dead."