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Bodmin librarian rapped for ‘burn Bible’ call

By West Briton  |  Posted: November 02, 2011

Jesse Foot

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A MAVERICK librarian has come under fire for including the Bible in a “wish list” of books people have chosen to burn.

Bodmin library manager Jesse Foot started his “book-burning promotion’’ by putting his own choices on the pile, and one of them is the Bible.

Users can choose books they think are rubbish, and also those with terrible covers or a book that made them depressed after reading it.


But Bodmin rector, the Rev Canon Graham Minors, has criticised Mr Foot’s choice of the Bible as “insensitive’’ to Christians.

Mr Foot says he included the book to draw attention to the need to keep libraries open.

Among the books customers chose this week were Dante’s Inferno, Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Noddy and Friends picture books.

Mr Foot said there is a serious point to his controversial promotion.

“The only thing worse than burning books is not reading them,’’ he said. “I want to get the message across that not using your library is as good as burning it down.’’

Mr Foot has courted controversy before. Two years ago he asked borrowers to select books they hated most, which brought the library national media attention and a mention in a Piers Morgan column as one of his books was on the most-hated list.

Others on the “burning’’ shelf were books on smoking, the international bestseller Holy Blood And Holy Grail, and two books by the American social commentator and film-maker, Michael Moore.

Mr Foot, who was brought up in the US, said Moore’s books fell into the category of “books that smell bad’’.

He added: “What I mean by that is that they have been lent to someone who is a heavy smoker, or whose pets stink, or maybe fry too many chips, and they have been returned smelling really bad. Plus Moore is very annoying too, the way he has manipulated the media.’’

It was Mr Foot who put the Bible on the book-burning pile. He said he did it to “catch the eye’’ of library users in the hope they would contribute their own selections.

“Books have often presented a challenge to people and some have responded in the past by burning them, including copies of the Bible,’’ he said.’’

“Books can be very emotive, they can also be very inspiring to people. But if people don’t bother to read them, you may as well burn them, and the best way to access books is to keep using libraries,’’ he said.

“I created this display to inflame a little public response. The power of books and the words within ignite passionate human responses.

“Book-burning may be controversial but it is a feeble attempt to contain that power.” Governments, religious institutions or individuals cannot contain the immense power held within great books. My desire is for people to read more, use their local libraries and use their minds.’’

But Mr Minors Bodmin priest the Rev Canon Graham Minors said Mr Foot had gone too far in including the Bible in his burning pile.


“I think he’s trying to be too clever. I can see what he is trying to do, but he is being very insensitive towards people who call themselves Christians – if it were the Koran he would be in real trouble.

“There are many poorly-written books I wouldn’t mind seeing burned, but in the case of the Bible, I think he’s gone too far down the road of self-publicity and should get a life.’’

This could be Mr Foot’s last promotion at the library. Cornwall Council is making his job redundant along with a number of other library manager posts in the county. He is due to leave the library service in December.

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  • JeremyBadger  |  November 03 2011, 7:13PM

    Oh dear, TIC has removed my post. Perhaps it was because I mentioned the quran and our muslim friends, I forgot that this was a no-no, however an article about burning the Bible shows total hypocracy by the editorial staff of these columns, as freedom of speech is not one of their strongest points.

  • stevepz  |  November 03 2011, 1:48PM

    Burn everything by Clarkson. Hes starting to get on my T*ts

  • Doitdreckley  |  November 03 2011, 1:27PM

    With redundancy just around the corner it looks like poor Mr Foot has got nothing to lose. On the other hand, in that context, it is a pointless and desperate publicity stunt which just may have made a difference if sanctioned by the Council. The fact that it probably wasn't should speak volumes. Book burning is both a violent and anti democratic act. 'Violent' because it is a wantant act of vandalism and a bad example to children. I notice the picture has Mr Foot holding up a copy of 'Snow White', a nice book that many small kids enjoy untainted by the PC brigade. 'Anti democratic' because if someone writes or publishes a book it is an act of free speech which Mr Foot or no one else has a right to deny access to. In fact, by 'burning' books that people may choose he would be methaphorically reducing the stock of his library. Misguided.

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  • mygodlesslife  |  November 02 2011, 3:12PM

    And what, pray, was the reason for my last posts omission? Theistic censorship, no doubt. We can't have dissent, now. Can we?

  • mygodlesslife  |  November 02 2011, 3:08PM

    One wonders if these books the Rev Canon Graham Minors would like to burn himself would include Richard Dawkins atheistic tomes, subjects pertaining to secularity, or science books that consistently refute religions' claims to authority? Should anyone disagree with whatever his choice of fire-lighter should be, will they, then, also have the right to call his choices 'insensitive'? I doubt it, because religious types do not care about religious freedom - that undermines their authority - they are only ever interested in religious privilege and forging their own totalitarian agenda at the cost of those that have the balls to stand against their archaic mythologies. The hypocrisy and self-aggrandisement of those that profess a religious faith in one god or another, never fails to stupefy me. I see it every day. I kid you not. Every day.

  • TheodoreV  |  November 02 2011, 2:53PM

    Oh just another individual courting publicity then. Few now read the bible as they once did. Since at least the King James Version published in 1611 and a century before with Tynsdale's first English translation from the original Greek and Hebrew texts in about 1525, the Bible has been the consummate and enduring piece of English literature. It was for many hundreds of years the only educative tool for teaching children to read, write and incorporate a common grammar. In so doing it provided a unifying and significant influence on British culture and society to the present day and world-wide. We can argue as to whether overall its influence has been more good than bad but what is unarguable is that it still stands alone in its link with the very dawn of civilization and its impact on at least western patterns of belief and culture. Only a total Philistine (of course a Biblical allusion) or self-obsessed fantasist would suggest we burn it.

  • JeremyBadger  |  November 02 2011, 1:20PM

    This employee of the County Council is a liability and should be dismissed ASAP as he is bringing disrepute to the council. How very simplistic of him to pick on the Bible to be one that he would burn, hadhe had suggested that the Quran be burned then he would find that the condemnation from the Muslim community would probably mean that he would end up in court, or worse.

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  • J4ssification  |  November 02 2011, 10:19AM

    I think the point is that you would actually NEVER burn a book, it is just plain wrong... the bloke is just saying that about the bible to draw attention to the plight of libraries across the country - and he has obviously done just that!

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  • josdave  |  November 02 2011, 9:43AM

    A lib rarian of all people should not be advocating the burning of any books. People should be free to read whatever they like regardless of the content. I am an atheist and regard the Bible as almost pure fiction but I would never burn it.