like every couple of years or so, a sneaky snake comes out from under a
rock in Knoxville and slithers it's way to Lenoir City. First it was the
Freedom From Religion Foundation that showed up to complain about the
patches on the LCPD uniforms because it had the word religion on them.
Then it was
the loony man and woman from Rationalists of East Tennessee who didn't
like the fact that ministers gave the invocation before council meetings
and wanted to give their own secular invocation
Now another one has made his way to LC. His name is Jonas Holdeman and he's all shook up cause he can't do what he wants to enlighten the people of Lenoir City.
It started when he showed up at city hall with this big plan to install what he called a "little library" in Rock Springs Park. According to Holdeman, a "little library" consists of a box on a pole where people can leave a book or take a book. Never mind that there's a full service public library just a few blocks away or the fact that every school in the county has a fully staffed and stocked library. The city declined his proposal. So why would this man want to install his "little library"?
Mr. Holdeman is affiliated with Rationalists of East Tennessee, the anti prayer people and Freedom From Religion Foundation, the anti patch people, both of which are anti Christian and deny the existence of God.
Mr. Holdeman has started an email campaign to try to force the city to let him have his "little library". From his facebook page:
Holdeman has apparently filed a complaint with Freedom From Religion Foundation. From their web site:
While all this is bad enough, it gets worse. Apparently Mr. Holdeman has been introduced into the Lenoir City school system and is working with at least two different student organizations, the Secular Student Alliance and Diversity Club.
I stopped by to ask the Lenoir City director of schools what if any credentials Mr. Holdeman had to be interacting with students. Unfortunately, Ms. Barker was out of town. I have no idea if Holdeman has been vetted or had background checks as required to work with students.
It appears that Mr. Holdeman is closely associated with at least one teacher in the high school. In some of his Facebook posts and photos, he is seen with LCHS English teacher, Elizabeth Corbett. Ms. Cornett is a well known advocate for illegal immigration and is an activist for in state college tuition for illegal immigrants. She apparently also supports non Christian ideas for her students. From her Facebook:
Of course Darwinism is the promotion of evolution over creationism, science over Biblical teachings. Could a Christian group hold a bake sale in the school and pass out Christian paraphernalia?
What's going on at Lenoir City High School? Are students being educated or indoctrinated in anti Christian propaganda? Why is a 76 year old man from Knoxville participating in activities with students? Are there no schools in Knoxville that need his special expertise? What process is in place at the Lenoir City school system for allowing private citizens to interact with students? Where's the director of schools on this issue? Where's the school board?
Mr. Holdeman may be a fine man, a great secularist and atheist, I have no idea. But should he be interacting with students? That's for others to decide.
I'll go back where I started this story. What's the real reason Mr. Holdeman wants to start his "little library" at Rock Springs Park? Is it to promote literacy as he claims or to promote a personal agenda? I understand Mr. Holdeman plans to address city council at tonight's council meeting (4/10/17) on the matter of his "little library".
Below are some photos and links pertaining to this story and the News Herald story on the "little library". You can make up your own mind.
Youtube Video Of Holdeman, Corbett And Students (Atheist TV: Lenoir City Secular Student Alliance)
‘A service to the community’
Jeremy Nash news-herald.net
Both Lenoir City and students at Lenoir City High School seem to be in favor of placing a Little Free Library in the community, but they differ on the location.
Students in the Secular Student Alliance and the Diversity Club have been working for the past month to collect books for the project, which allows people to freely take and add books as they please.
The idea initially came from Farragut resident Jonas Holdeman, who serves as an advocate for the SSA club, when he learned the group was looking for a community project.
“Jonas came to us and talked, because before
this we had done a project and it was a little birdhouse, which is
at the front of the school,” Tyler McCoy, SSA president, said. “It
literally just has SSA, and we got permission from the school to do
that, and Jonas was talking about how he was upgrading one at I
don’t know what park it was in Knoxville but so he had one Little
Free Library left over and we don’t have anything like that around
here but we do have a really, I think, two-mile walking trail,
something close to that, and then a little park.”
Students and Holdeman say they want to place two Little Free Library boxes near the Rock Springs Park area, with one being dedicated to children’s books beside the playground and another for young adults and adults along the walking trail.
“A lot of people around here don’t really — they don’t like using the public library and where the park is it’s like really a main location,” Michael Johnson, Diversity Club president, said. “It’s surrounded by — pretty much most of the population is right there by the park. So most of people in Lenoir City are close to this park, and a lot of people come through it, and also it’s something different than a library because you — in a library you go and check it out but this you just you can take a book and you’ll be, I don’t know, you can be enjoying your time at the park and then you’ll also be, ‘OK, well I’m going to read a book’.”
Steve Harrelson, Lenoir City Parks & Recreation Department director, said he’s in favor of the students’ efforts, but he thinks the library would be better located at the Central Park playground along Broadway Street once it opens around the end of April. Harrelson has only discussed the library with Holdeman.
“We are in favor of the library, but we want to locate it at the new park and (Holdeman) just for some reason has his mind set on a certain spot and he just won’t take no for an answer,” Harrelson said. “The idea itself is great, and we’re going to work with them. We’re going to ask them to put some of the initial books in there like they were planning on doing, but we just want to put it down there at the new park.
“We think it’d be a good spot ... to be there for a while and a good location for young kids that’ll be there playing at the playground and be able to access the library and hopefully exchange books between the kids,” he added. “I think it’ll be a win-win for everybody in the right location.”
Harrelson initially told Holdeman he was fine with the location along the walking trail, but later changed his mind, claiming it would be vandalized.
Because students believe the library will be “fairly popular,” McCoy said he and others would keep the box stocked with books. The group has already collected three crates of books. He said they would also visit the location at least every other week to deter vandalism.
“I know where something’s going to work and where things aren’t going to work, and the location they’re wanting to put it is right next to the creek,” Harrelson said. “It’d be a great location, but my worst fear with the Little Library — all you have to do is open the door up and put one in is a great concept, but the reality is I’m afraid in that area it’s going to be more of open the door up and grab all the books and toss them over in Town Creek. You hate that we’re at the point in time where you have to worry about something like that happening, but I just know the location that they’re asking for is not the right fit.”
The main concern students and Holdeman have is that Harrelson’s location wouldn’t have as much traffic.
“What concerns me about this is just the lack of communication,” Harrelson said. “... The facts are we’re not putting it inside the fence of the playground. We’re going to put it outside the area where there’s a bench close to the restrooms where anybody can access it 24/7 if they want to. So, to think that we’re going to put it inside the fenced area and keep it locked is false.”
Harrelson encourages residents to bring books to the Little Free Library once it’s installed.
Regardless of the location, Diversity Club sponsor Heather Hawkins said the library will “improve literacy” and be “a service to the community.”
“They’ve put several hours of work into it,” Hawkins said. “They’ve went around to all the homerooms and they’ve — we had a book drive around school where kids brought in free books and they’ve sorted all the books and they have everything all ready to go.”