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Gov. Deal orders Bibles back into rooms at parks

11:48 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Go into just about any hotel room and you can find a bible tucked in the nightstand drawer.  But visit a state park cabin or lodge, and you'll find them empty.

Park guests 11Alive talked with on Wednesday, don't understand why.

"You can get it for free. People hand them out. It's the most accessible document in the western world," said Terrence Broxterman.

"Whether you're going to open that drawer, pick it up and read it or not, that's you're own individual choice," added Taylor Farrow.

The state's park department ordered employees to remove the Bibles just days ago after a visitor complained.  But on Wednesday, just hours after learning about what happened, Governor Nathan Deal, had a complaint of his own.

"Our commissioner took that as a pre-emptive effort to try to avoid litigation. I have been in contact with the Attorney Generals office. I do not favor the removal of bibles from these public facilities," Deal said.

By the end of the day, the Governor had made an executive order, to have the Bibles and any other religious literature the public wanted to donate, returned to the rooms. 

In a statement he said:

"The attorney general and I agree that the state is on firm legal footing as we move to return the Bibles to the rooms. 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 religious group is free to donate literature."

11Alive called more than a dozen state park departments, as well as the national park service to check on their policies. None of them prohibited religious literature.

Georgia's park service has yet to say when these bibles will be returned to their rooms. 

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(The Associated Press.)

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