"Governor Nathan Deal says the state plans to return Bibles to guest cabins and lodge rooms at Georgia parks.
"Department of Natural Resources managers recently ordered the removal of Bibles while a final decision was made on the response to a citizen complaint about the presence of Bibles on state property."
"The governor said that he expected the Bibles to be returned quickly. Deal said that he and the state attorney general have agreed that the state is on firm legal footing returning the Bibles to state lodges and cabin"So what's the problem? The state isn't paying for the bibles - the Gideons are. If Christians want to read the bible in their state-owned cabins and lodge rooms, why should anyone care? Non-Christians aren't being forced to read them, after all. Isn't removing the bibles from the rooms the real violation of religious freedom?
Um, no. See, the bibles aren't there for deeply devout bible-reading Christians. I've never met one of them who didn't have his or her own bible. Usually several of them. Almost always including a pocket-sized New Testament, often a traveling paperback in a protective zippered cover and nowadays a Kindle or online link stored on their iPhones. They are welcome to bring their bibles and read them, and they don't need the Gideons.
So who are the bibles for? In a word, non-believers. A little gift the missionaries at Gideon leaves to help show the light to the damned.
If that isn't a clear violation of the Establishment clause, I don't know what is. Whether the state pays for it or not. Even if they allow the lost souls a choice between the Bible, the Koran and Dianetics.
The state has NO business promoting, directly or indirectly, any religion. For all the right wing yammering about slippery slopes, this is the ONE slope down which we are actually in danger of sliding. No one has ever suggested that men should be allowed to marry the box-turtle of choice, but many, many times a government - even our government - has shown real and dangerous preference for a particular set of dogmatic beliefs.
Get rid of the bibles, Governor Deal. The only public building in which they should be housed is a library, on the shelf in the comparative literature section.