Staying in a Georgia State Park? Starting Today, You Can Find Atheist Literature in the Cabins

Back in May, former American Atheists president Ed Buckner visited a state park in Georgia and found a Bible in his rented cabin. That wouldn’t be unusual in a privately-owned hotel… but a state park?!

It’s not that the Bible was “offensive.” It’s just that, on principle, it shouldn’t have been there. It suggested government endorsement of Christianity.

At the time, park officials removed the Bibles from the cabins, but Governor Nathan Deal quickly put them right back in because he (wrongly) believed they were legal:

Gov. Nathan Deal

“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.”

O RLY?! Any group can donate literature?!

You can imagine how the staff at American Atheists was salivating when they heard those magic words:

We appreciate the governor’s invitation to place atheist books in the cabins and look forward to providing visitors with the opportunity to learn more about atheism when they visit Georgia’s beautiful state parks,” said Managing Director Amanda Knief.

“American Atheists does not believe the State of Georgia should be placing Bibles or atheist books in state park cabins; however, if the state is going to allow such distribution, we will happily provide our materials,” said President David Silverman.

Well, it’s finally happening.

Not before state officials attempted to throw an obstacle in the atheists’ path — they said all donations had to be hard-cover books… but no matter.

Today, Ed Buckner will be delivering a giant bundle of atheism to Red Top Mountain State Park at 10:00a and A. H. Stephens Historic Park at 2:00p. (More godless literature will be given to other state parks in coming days.)

Which books?

Fear, Faith, Fact, Fantasy by the late Dr. John A. Henderson.

Why I Am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq.

And — my personal favorite — leather-bound copies of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible by Steve Wells.

The kicker? There are labels in all of the books that credit Governor Deal for inviting the donations.

If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, just imagine the reaction of the guy who opens up his nightstand to grab the Bible, only to realize his edition has some unexpected notes written in the margins…

Hats off to the Atlanta Freethought Society and Ed Buckner for pursuing this opportunity, American Atheists and SAB Books for their donations, and especially Governor Deal for giving atheists a chance to spread our message to unsuspecting families all over the state of Georgia.

***Update***: American Atheists says this in a press release:

“American Atheists does not believe the State of Georgia should be placing Bibles or atheist books in state park cabins; however, if the state is going to allow such distribution, we will happily provide our materials,” said President David Silverman.

“We appreciate the governor’s invitation to place atheist books in the cabins and look forward to providing visitors with the opportunity to learn more about atheism when they visit Georgia’s beautiful state parks,” said Managing Director Amanda Knief.

(Thanks to Philip for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • ShoeUnited

    “516 of carton…”

    That’s a lot of fucking books. I love to read, but damn!

  • Charles M Taylor

    As an expatriate Georgian and an atheist, I am glad to see this happening.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    If only someone had the time, money and inclination to track these books and see how many of them are still in the cabins a couple of years from now.

    Of course, people are implicitly free to take literature home, but people who do that most often seem to be trying to get rid of the books rather than enjoy them.

  • EvolutionKills

    Oh the irony, it burns!

  • Lee Miller

    Does anyone think all the faithful Christians of Georgia are going to let this filthy trash stay in their cabins? They’ll organize caravans to go visit and cleanse the parks. That is assuming the staff don’t do the job first.

    • kdp

      I’d bet on that last sentence being what actually happens. The boxes will show up and quietly be removed.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

        who cares??? ok, southrons: get busy. go sit in front of an xxxtian kkkleaned cabin and take a pic. post it. let some hater toss these books; it’s worth its weight in gold in terms of the meme value.

      • Nikita

        Time for a good ol’ fashioned book burnin’. :P

      • viaten

        I wonder if that would be a church-state violation, if state employees remove the boxes, or don’t go to some length to see they are not stolen before placed in rooms.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i LOVE this! time for a donation…

  • Michael

    Ugh! I HATE hardback books!

  • SeekerLancer

    I wish they were all Skeptics Annotated. The idea of somebody finding that next to a normal bible makes me grin from ear to ear.

    • JET

      And someone might pick it up not realizing what it actually is.

      • Edmond

        Better yet a CHILD might pick it up, and keep it.

    • Crazy Russian

      “Here’s something to bore you to sound sleep. And if you want something genuinely interesting, here’s a twist…”

  • A3Kr0n

    Whadda Deal!

    • Charles M Taylor

      *rimshot*

  • Bitter Lizard

    I do question the choice of the Warraq book. Are there really that many Muslims in Georgia? I mean, I know they’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from Sharia law in the South and all, but c’mon.

    • Artor

      All the reasons to not be Muslim apply to not being Xian, with the added benefit that Xians might actually read it, and maybe even think about it.

      • Bitter Lizard

        Maybe there’s something to this. The problem I have is that most religious people tend to already see other religions as being ridiculous, often for the same reasons atheists do, but just turn the blinders on when it comes to their own. There’s nothing more ridiculous than seeing somebody of one religion making fun of the tenets of another. I want to scream, “Only WE get to do that!”

        • WallofSleep

          I dated that gal.

          “Christianity is stupid and the bible is bullshit. Here, let me do your horoscope.”

          • Bitter Lizard

            New Age: creationism for liberals.

    • Chuck Farley

      I’ll agree with what Artor said. I think the other Atheist books will be largely ignored, but “Why I’m Not A Muslim”, establishes common ground with Christians right in the title. It won’t be the same reason that they aren’t a Muslim, but I would think it might stand a better chance of being read.

    • spookiewon

      I agree, but for different reasons. I would have limited it to the “Skeptic’s Annotated Bible.”

  • viaten

    Hard-cover? I would think that could be challenged.

  • JET

    Every time I’m in a hotel room and spot one of these bibles, it looks like it’s never been touched. I wonder how many people actually read them.

    • spookiewon

      I’d venture nobody. It’s not the point. MOST xians don’t read the bible, and those that do bring their own. That they are there makes the important statement.

      Also, the Gideons would replace a hotel bible showing wear. They know the importance of the ubiquitous presence of those bibles. It makes xianity an assumed thing.

  • Zugswang

    This is great, but I will be even happier when we don’t have to go out of our way to make a point because a politician thinks (s)he can get away with government endorsement of religion, only to have to make an unideal ex post facto allowance because they don’t understand, or are willfully ignorant of, constitutional law.

    I’m glad this is being done, but I dream of a day where we no longer have to waste time building monuments and distributing literature on government property, because then secular orgs can divert donations to more important tasks. But as long as dominionists continue to push their faith on others, we have a responsibility to counter every unconstitutional dumb move they make.

  • newavocation

    AA should send Gov. Deal a thank you letter and copy his minister.

  • iamfantastikate

    I love this and cannot wait to see the reactions. I feel like I should be settling in somewhere comfortable with a bowl of popcorn.

  • TJ

    There is a God and there is a devil. You are serving the devil. Denying there is a God does not change the truth.
    Jesus came to this earth to die a horrific death for your sins so that you will be saved from the eternal lake of fire (hell) if you accept Him as your Savior. He does not wish that anyone go to hell but have eternal life in heaven with Him.
    I am fully aware that he devil will send vulgarity and distasteful comments my way for my stance for Jesus Christ but so be it. I have the promise of eternal life with my Lord and Savior. My heart breaks for those who have chosen to believe the lies of Satan but ultimately the choice is yours.
    It’s as simple as asking Jesus to come in to your heart and be your Savior and forgive you of your sins. He’ll take the scales from your eyes to see truth. Ask him to protect and guide you. He loves you and he will. Choose life.
    the bible says:
    “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
    against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
    against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12, (KJV)
    but the good news of the bible is:
    ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

    • iamfantastikate

      Your religion is fan fiction based on other religions that came before it.

      And your holy book can be really evil:

      “And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.” –Deuteronomy 20:13-14

      Really evil. Often. There is so little love in your holy book. I will say that it has great PR, though, probably because of all the billions of dollars that go toward more megachurches and fanfare than to starvation and medicine that will cure people of diseases.

      I get it, though, we’re the evil ones in your standard narrative, your Bogeymen. It’s not that you hate us, I know. It’s that a tiny part of you that will never admit to it online or to your significant other or to your pastor fears there might be some truth to this skepticism thing. After all, there’s no Zeus, no Dagda, no Thor, no Great Spirit, no Allah, right?

    • Guest

      God, the devil and hell are all imaginary. Your entire life is based on following a lie. Death is the end of all of us, so make the most of the life you have left.

    • TheLump

      I appreciate that you believe, but why?

    • Tainda

      Well good for you!

      Not for me. Do you get that at all?? Whatever delusion you want to cling to is your business. Stay out of mine!

    • Dylan Flowers

      They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be PUT TO DEATH, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

      You should kill us. First, however, you should be killing non-virgin brides.

      But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall STONE HER TO DEATH, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

      Then kill anyone with parents who have sinned

      Make ready to SLAUGHTER his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)

      You have a night of murder in your future my friend if you want me to believe your religion.

    • allein

      I never asked for anyone to “die a horrific death” for me. I find the very idea reprehensible.

  • Austin Breed

    Moving on to more worthwhile, secular endeavors!

    • Charles M Taylor

      Having grown up in Georgia myself, you have no idea just how BIG of a victory that this is. It put us, as a group, in the public eye on several TV affiliates in and around the state and has stirred up discussion (and flushed out the ill-informed in the process).

  • MartinRC

    From news stories I am reading, it sounds like they are still delaying putting the books int he cabins. http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2013-08-14/story/atheist-taking-literature-georgia-state-parks

    “Buckner said Wednesday he was told by officials at Red Top Mountain State Park that the books he dropped off — “The Skeptics Annotated Bible” by Steve Wells and “Fear, Faith, Fact, Fantasy” by Dr. John A. Henderson — wouldn’t be immediately put in cottages at Red Top Mountain because the manager would have to make sure they complied with regulations.”

    Wonder what these regulations end up being…

  • DS

    As an atheist this makes me lol because anyone who’s studied supreme court cases on religion & law will know that this is not a state endorsement of religion. Jesus christ, what an attention grab.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Funny how all the involved parties, some of which include attorneys specialized in such matters, disagree with you. Jesus Christ, what a superiority complex.

  • Soulwinner

    Psalm 14:1
    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      The fool says it in his heart. The wise man says it out loud.

      Not to mention that the passage is a demonstrable lie, because atheists do good all the time. Why do you spread quotes that are lies?

      And why such an arrogant pseudonym?

  • Soulwinner

    God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

    Romans 1:18-25

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      20 For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

  • Soulwinner

    Psalm 34:8-22

    8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
    9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
    10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

    11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
    12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
    13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
    14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

    15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
    16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
    17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
    18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

    19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
    20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
    21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
    22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      21 Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.


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