An atheist in Georgia is launching an assault on the presence of Bibles in a state-run vacation lodge. Ed Buckner, an author and the former head of American Atheists, an organization devoted to church-state separatism, apparently complained last month after he found Gideon Bibles at a lodge he rented in North Georgia.
While Buckner, 67, believes that the presence of the holy books represents a violation of the separation of church and state, some politicians, including Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, disagree with this assessment, Reuters reports.
After his stay at the lodge, Buckner complained and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources then reportedly removed the books from cabins and rooms at state parks while the issue was being reviewed. However, Deal ordered that the Bibles be returned — an action that is sure to draw the ire of atheist activists.
In fact, Buckner is considering a lawsuit and is calling the scenario “outrageous.” It isn’t uncommon for activists to take to the courts, as TheBlaze has repeatedly highlighted, to make their grievances heard.
“I can very much imagine this turning into a lawsuit,” he said, according to Reuters. “It’s outrageous that anybody thinks this is acceptable.”
In a statement, though, Deal noted that he and the state’s attorney general, Sam Olens, are in agreement that the return and general inclusion of the Bibles is permissible.
“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,” the governor said. “In fact, any group is free to donate literature.”
A Gideons spokesperson told Reuters that the organization, which is said to have donated billions of Bibles since its inception, has not yet seen the presence of their books challenged in other states. As for the governor’s pledge to allow other literature, atheist activists may end up taking him up on that offer, as they have taken similar stances and actions in the past.
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