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Court battle looms over Bibles in Georgia state park cabins

ATLANTA -- A battle over Bibles is brewing after the governor said on Wednesday the books should be allowed to be placed in the bedside table drawers at state-owned vacation properties after an atheist's objection led to their removal.

Ed Buckner, an author and former president of a group called American Atheists, said he complained to state officials last month after finding nine Gideons Bibles in the three-bedroom, state-run lodge he was renting in North Georgia.

Gideons International, an evangelical Christian group based in Nashville, says it has distributed nearly 2 billion Bibles worldwide since its founding more than a century ago.

Buckner, 67, of Atlanta, said on Wednesday that Georgia was violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from establishing a religion.

Soon after Buckner complained on April 28, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources removed the books from lodge rooms and cabins at state parks in an effort to avoid litigation as it reviewed the issue, the governor's office said.

But on Wednesday, after consulting with the state's attorney general, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered that the volumes be returned.

"The attorney general and I agree that the state is on firm legal footing as we move to return the Bibles to the rooms," Deal said in a statement.

"These Bibles are donated by outside groups, not paid for by the state, and I do not believe that a Bible in a bedside table drawer constitutes a state establishment of religion," Deal said. "In fact, any group is free to donate literature."

Buckner said he may sue Georgia over the issue.

"I can very much imagine this turning into a lawsuit ... It's outrageous that anybody thinks this is acceptable," he said.

Malcolm Arvin, a Gideons spokesman, said the group has provided Bibles for state lodges around the United States. He said he knew of no other state where the religious books have been challenged.

Comments

Gundoctor1 1 year, 7 months ago

Go ahead and sue Buckner, and get a very, very expensive lawyer. Maybe you will spend your last dime.

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 7 months ago

A few thoughts:


Why does it seem like it's always a current or former official with an Atheistic group making these complaints? It gives off the impression that atheists are very angry with even the thought of the possible mention of a divine being in the public sphere?


How did a single citizen complaint lead to such a knee-jerk overreaction by a state official? Are we that PC-sensitive that we now kowtow to lone citizen complaints?


A question for Mr. Buckner: Would you have similarly complained if you'd instead founr a copy of the Q'uran, the Vedas, or the Torah in your room?

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EdBuckner 1 year, 7 months ago

Of course I would have. I'd have complained if 9 copies of my favorite atheist book were scattered all over the cabin, too. The difference is that if Q'uran, the Vedas, or the Torah, or the atheist books were systematically included in the public park cabin, I wouldn't be the only one complaining. We may find out.

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LilburnsFuture 1 year, 7 months ago

I believe his point is that there was more than 1 or 2. For example, if there was one donated bible left behind by a volunteer that is ok. The basis is that there is more than one, hence a possible bible study group or intent to facilitate a bible study group.

However, a bible study group might have had a function there and failed to return the bibles to their original locations. Then who is at fault with that? The state?

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skalawag 1 year, 6 months ago

I believe that if he found even one Bible, Q'uran, Vedas or Torah he would have made the complaint.

Besides don't you think that a "Bible Study" group would have brought their own Bibles?

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Bri 1 year, 7 months ago

"if you'd instead founr a copy of the Q'uran, the Vedas, or the Torah in your room?" would you be defending the right of those religions to place their texts in a state-owned facility? Would your reaction be the same? Would you jump to defend their placement?

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 7 months ago

Bri - The governor has said others are welcome to donate material. If these materials found their way into the rooms would be another matter. But given the predilection of atheists to attack Christianity more than any other religion (at least in this country), do you yourself think that Mr. Buckner would react the same way if he found those books?

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skalawag 1 year, 6 months ago

FordGalaxy I don't think that it is a question of availability of multiple religious materials. It's the constitutionality of placing religious material in State run facilities.

I also don't think that Atheists single out Christianity for attack. Atheists do not believe in ANY deity. And yes I believe that Mr. Buckner would have don the same thing no matter the religious material.

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kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

I always thought the word Democracy meant, the majority, not one person with no intelligence.

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EdBuckner 1 year, 7 months ago

Ours is a democratic republic, with majority decision-making but with individual and minority rights--yours as well as mine--protected by the First Amendment. And with a Constitution with not a single distinctively Christian principle incorporated.

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Kat 1 year, 7 months ago

EdBuckner there are so many worthwhile causes you could devote this explosion of energy and passion to. Do you refuse to stay in a hotel room that has bibles in the nightstand drawer? BTW I was raised Catholic and now would consider myself agnostic.

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skalawag 1 year, 6 months ago

Motel 6, Ramada and Best Western are not state run. Allowing Bibles to be placed in State run lodges and the like it is tacitly endorsing Christianity as a State religion which is explicitly not allowed by the U.S. Constitution. The same document that Republicans claim to hold so dear and that elected officials swear or affirm that they will up hold.

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kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

I bet these same atheists will be saying their last prayer to God when they are dying. They go through life like this because something happened to them that made them mad and they blame God and not themselves.

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skalawag 1 year, 6 months ago

Kevin whatever the reason for their belief they are entitled to them. Just as you are.

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SuxBeanU 1 year, 6 months ago

Rather than go after the state this goofbal should go after the person that held a gun to his head and forced him to read the bible, did he also have to read the phone book by his bed?

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