Keep Church and State Separate in Georgia State Parks

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Target: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal

Goal: Protect church-state separation by removing bibles from cabins located in state parks

State parks in Georgia will resume placing religious texts in cabins on state lands, as per an order by Governor Nathan Deal. Gideon Bibles were removed from the cabins at Amicalola State Park when a concerned citizen objected that their presence was a violation of church-state separation. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens contended housing the bibles in the cabins does not violate the First Amendment as they are donated, not purchased by the state.

According to Governor Deal, any group can donate literature, religious or not. The man who raised the objection, Ed Buckner, says current practices do not ensure respect for all world views, suggesting, “When you go into a state park cabin and the only piece of religious literature there is a Protestant bible, that suggests the government’s endorsed that particular perspective.” Indeed, for the government to insist it does not place preferences on religion it would need to host every single religious text or none at all.

The United States government should not engage in supporting any religion over another. Displaying bibles that were donated rather than purchased does not change the fact that cabins on state-owned land, supported by taxpayer dollars, are facilitating the views of a particular division of Christianity. Tell Governor Deal that he is wrong to believe bibles have a place on government property, and urge him to respect the role of government in regards to religion.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Nathan Deal,

The United States does not have a state religion, and the practice of retaining a “wall of separation” between church and state goes back to the intentions of the Founding Fathers. Giving preference to one religion over another violates this principle, and displaying Gideon Bibles on state property suggests an endorsement of Protestant Christianity.

Recently, you ordered Gideon Bibles to be returned to cabins at Amicalola State Park, on the grounds that the donated bibles do not violate the practice of church-state separation. Cabins that reside in state parks are on public lands that are funded by taxpayers, and by hosting the bibles, the State of Georgia displays a preference to one religion above others.

We are a diverse nation of many religions, and the government should protect our rights to practice our religion in safety, not encourage us to follow one over another. Remove the Gideon Bibles from cabins on state parks to respect the “wall of separation” that exists between church and state.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Amandajm via Wikimedia Commons

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