A secular group is implementing a coordinated plan to regularly send atheist literature to inmates in American prisons — a quest its members claim will counter the faith-based messages that are often touted by chaplains and faith leaders.
The Center for Inquiry, a humanist advocacy group, first made its intentions known in December.
Since announcing the Freethought Books Project, atheist authors have been donating books to the organization and publishers have been pitching in — all in an effort to balance the theological messages being delivered to inmates.
Members of the public, too, have purchased atheist books off an Amazon Wish List that was setup to promote the book initiative.
“The project offers donated books on atheism, humanism, science, and skepticism to prisoners who seek alternatives to the religious proselytizing and indoctrination that is often unavoidable within the prison system,” read a press release announcing the project. “It will also connect inmates with volunteer pen pals at CFI branches with whom they can connect and share ideas.”
And it appears there’s a market for this sort of atheistic messaging among the incarcerated, as 45 inmates have reportedly requested books from the Center for Inquiry, The Christian Post reported.
“By providing books, as well as connections through the pen pal network, we offer prisoners much-needed ties to the outside world and open minds to the wonders of science and critical thinking,” project coordinator Sarah Kaiser told the Post.
Steve Wells, author of “The Skeptics Annotated Bible,” told project organizers that he provided copies of his secular book in an effort to counter the religious messages that are so often brought into the American prison system.
“SAB Books is happy to support the Freethought Books project by donating copies of our book, ‘The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible,'” he said. “We think it’s important to provide an alternative to the Bibles and other religious materials that are continually pushed upon prison inmates.”
Originally launched in 2005 by Leslie Zukor, a college student in Oregon, the Center for Inquiry recently decided to reboot the Freethought Books Project.
It’s unclear how much the program will grow, but organizers claim that boxes of books are arriving daily. So far, they say the response has been “huge.”
(H/T: Christian Post)
Featured image via Center for Inquiry
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