ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday ordered the Department of Natural Resources to return Bibles that were removed from cabins and lodges at state parks after a guest complained about them.
In a statement Wednesday, Deal said the state isn’t violating any laws by having the Bibles in the cabins and lodge rooms because they weren’t paid for with state money and have been donated by outside groups.
The Bibles were removed after a guest expressed concerns. Department of Natural Resources management instructed staffers to remove the Bibles from the rooms while the issue was under investigation.
“Our commissioner took that as a pre-emptive effort to try to avoid litigation,” Deal said, adding that he consulted with the state attorney general before ordering the Bibles to be placed back in the cabins and lodges.
Deal says he does not believe Bibles being placed in bedside drawers is a state establishment of religion. The governor says any religious group is welcome to donate literature.
Representatives from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation spoke out against Deal’s decision to return the Bibles.
In a statement, Elizabeth Cavell, the organization’s staff attorney, contended that guests could bring their own Bibles and that having them placed in the rooms alienates non-Christian park visitors.