Our friends at the Atlanta Freethought Society continue their efforts to deliver Atheist books to Georgia state parks with the help and participation of our past president and current board member, Dr. Ed Buckner.
This first became an issue back in 2013 when Buckner discovered nine (yes 9!) bibles in his cabin when staying with his family at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. Buckner requested the removal of the bibles from that and other parks which initiated a chain reaction of events that culminated with the Georgia governor, Nation Deal, ultimately deciding the bibles would remain in the state parks on the grounds that the state did not pay for the books. However, Governor Deal then stated that any “religious” group was welcome to donate materials which opened the door for the introduction of Atheist books.
The Atlanta Freethought Society has scheduled their next book distribution for September 11th, 2015, to “remind Georgians of the horrors of a faith-based attack on the US fourteen years ago.”.
The full text of the press release follows:
9 September 2015 CE (corrected)
NEWS RELEASE—for immediate release
More Atheist Books to Georgia Parks on 9/11 Anniversary
Governor Deal and Attorney General Olens Continue Support for Atheist Education
(Atlanta) Atlanta Freethought Society (AFS) President Laura Ross announced today that the organization “continues to be unhappy that DNR is not accepting AFS books—but we’re pleased that Governor Deal has ordered the softcover Gideons New Testaments removed from the parks, and pleased that American Atheists is helping with our efforts.” Ross added, “our own longtime member and stalwart supporter, Perry Mitchell, will be delivering copies of an important atheist book, Fear Faith Fact Fantasy, by the late Dr. John Henderson of North Carolina, to Black Rock Mountain State Park near Clayton, GA, at about 3:30 P.M. on Friday, 11 September.” These books are being donated on September 11th partly to remind Georgians of the horrors of a faith-based attack on the US fourteen years ago.
American Atheists president David Silverman said, “We continue to be delighted with the support of Governor Nathan Deal for our efforts to help educate Georgia citizens and visitors. Thanks to him, state park visitors can now read an atheist book in the comfort and natural beauty found at Black Rock Mountain. We’ve made sure to label every book we’re donating as coming from us, of course. But each label also properly credits Governor Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens.” Most of the books were donated by American Atheists, but some were also provided by AFS, and the logistics of getting them to Black Rock Mountain is being provided by AFS.Perry Mitchell, who will be delivering the atheist books, is an activist of many years standing (notably as the local spokesperson for the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first Atlanta outdoor billboard campaign; he was interviewed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and several TV news shows).Mitchell said, “the Bibles are unconstitutional because of the apparent state endorsement of Protestant Christianity, and I’m proud to be following up earlier efforts by the Atlanta Freethought Society.” Governor Deal insisted the Bibles be returned to the state-owned cottages and lodge rooms, and invited atheist books into the parks. Labels in all the books being donated credit the Governor and Attorney General, but many freethinkers remain displeased with diverting the state parks from their primary purposes.
Controversy over this may continue, as American Atheists and AFS will donate more books to other Georgia parks in the future as a part of the governor’s program.
The Atlanta Freethought Society AFS Hall, 4775 N. Church Lane, Atlanta GA 30339 (just off Atlanta Road, inside the I-285/ perimeter—exit 16) is a member-run (all volunteer) non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational organization. The freethought hall that AFS owns and restored was a church from 1866, when it was built, until 2001. Regular AFS meetings, free and open to the public, are held on the second Sunday afternoon of every month, with a variety of other events and activities each month as well. AFS has published, under the auspices of its press—Freethought Press, seven books and dozens of calendars, brochures, and flyers. AFS has often led protests against church-state violations.
For more information on this release or on AFS more generally, please visit our website, www.atlantafreethought.org , or call any AFS leader.
AFS President Laura Ross, 404-634-1005
Perry Mitchell, 404-373-0842
Danny Tatum (Manager of Black Rock Mountain State Park), 706-754-7981
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, 404-656-1776
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, 404-656-3300
American Atheists President David Silverman,
908-276-7300, ext. 8 (Nick Fish, Press Officer)