If you stay in a cabin or lodge room at a Georgia state park, you can take in the native flora and fauna outside. Inside, you shouldn’t have to look hard to find a Bible—at least for now.
According to Fox 5 Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources this week had been set to remove Bibles from such rooms across the state following a citizen’s complaint.
"Recently, due to a citizen concern, Georgia Department of Natural Resources management directed Parks staff to remove Bibles from cabins and lodge rooms until management can fully investigate the issue and make an informed decision," a DNR spokeswoman told the news station.
On Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal instructed DNR officials to return the Bibles to cabins and lodge rooms. His order, he said, came after he consulted with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.
“Out of an abundance of caution to avoid potential litigation, the commissioner removed the Bibles from rooms—though they were still available on site—after a complaint from a visitor. 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 Wednesday. “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.
“In fact, any group is free to donate literature.”
"Permitting members of outside groups the privilege of placing their religious literature in public-owned and maintained state park cabins constitutes state endorsement and advancement of these Christian publications. Such a practice alienates non-Christian park visitors," wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell, who added that one in five adult Americans identify themselves as nonreligious.
Was Deal right to overturn the decision of the Department of Natural Resources? Should Bibles remain in the cabins and lodge rooms of state parks?
Share what’s on your mind with us, and then return here to see what your neighbors in Bartow, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding have said.