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Jason Rapert confirmed to the State Library Board

State Sen. Jason Rapert (file photo).
Michael Hibblen
/
KUAR News
Former state Sen. Jason Rapert moves toward joining the library board.

Former Sen. Jason Rapert has joined the state library board. Friday, the Arkansas Senate confirmed his nomination in a vote of 22-10. The vote was held without discussion.

The seven person library board has authority over how money is distributed in the state's libraries.

In November, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders appointed Jason Rapert to the State Library Board. He formerly served in the state senate from January 2011 to January 2023. Rapert is also the founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers.

Rapert’s Views on the Library

Rapert's appointment to the library board comes after a year of backlash against local libraries over the materials in their collection. Earlier this year, the Arkansas legislature passed Act 372. The law criminalizes librarians who provide minors with “harmful materials,” and mandates certain books be put in a restricted section out of reach of children.

Organizations like Moms for Liberty and the Saline County Republicans have spent the year gathering at library board meetings to complain about books containing LGBTQ characters. The library director in Saline County was fired after she refused to move queer books to a restricted section. In Crawford County, the library director was fired after she created a display of LGBTQ-themed books. After the books were relocated to another section, a lawsuit against the library began. Bob Ballinger, a member of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, is leading the suit.

Another lawsuit is underway challenging the constitutionality of Act 372. The Central Arkansas Library System, the Fayetteville Public Library and the Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library are plaintiffs in the suit. Rapert told THV11, that he wanted to block funding from libraries that are suing the law, something that would be possible if he served on the library board.

So far the lawsuit has been successful. After the plaintiffs presented their case, a judge in Fayetteville temporarily blocked the law from going into effect.

The law was put forward by Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Jonesboro. Last year, before Sullivan put forth the law he appeared on Rapert's online show “Save the Nation.” Rapert told Sullivan that books containing LGBTQ characters are “causing little ones to stumble.” He said this while quoting the bible verse Mark 9:42 which says that if someone causes children to sin “it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

During the broadcast, Rapert said he was upset with CALS for hosting a public “Pronoun Pin Making Event.” He called the event an “LGBTQ session where they were going to indoctrinate,” and said the event was “overtly sexual.”

“I think that every parent should know that their kid is being solicited into a discussion that they may might object to,” he said.

On Facebook, Rapert said he supports the work libraries can do to promote literacy.

“We want libraries to responsibly enrich and educate our young people,” he said

When he was a senator Rapert made headlines for his conservative views. He stood in opposition to laws benefitting the LGBTQ community during his tenure. He worked to create a statue of the Ten Commandments on the capitol grounds, which is being challenged in an ongoing lawsuit. He also had to pay $16 thousand after he blocked commenters on his Twitter account, something which violates the First Amendment.

Rapert will serve on the board until October of 2029.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.
Maggie Ryan is a reporter and local host of All Things Considered for Little Rock Public Radio.