Georgia Governor orders Bibles return to state park cabins - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Georgia Governor orders Bibles return to state park cabins

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GEORGIA (WRCB) - A controversy over Bibles has been brewing in Georgia and it came to a head Wednesday.

It all started when the Georgia Department of Natural Resources ordered all state parks to remove Bibles from cabins.

READ MORE | Ga. agency orders removal of Bibles at state parks

Georgia has 25 state parks with overnight accommodations. Over the last few days, and again Wednesday, the Department of Natural Resources, the agency over the parks, ordered staff to remove all the Gideon Bibles that, for years, have been placed on bedside tables. But, a twist came mid-day as the governor made his opinion known.

"I'm shocked to hear it's an issue at all," Georgia resident Marcus Moon said.

It's a controversy sparked by a single complaint. Georgia DNR officials say a visitor argued it was inappropriate for there to be a Gideon Bible on his cabin's bedside table at Amicalola Falls State Park two weeks ago.

"It's the first complaint I've been aware of," Georgia DNR Spokesperson Lauren Curry said.

But, after several days of considering it, the agency decided it was reason enough to act.

"In abundance of caution in the short term, DNR management requested our park staff to remove the Bibles until the state could fully look into the issue and make a fully informed decision," Curry said.

"It's what's wrong with the United States today. Too many people are getting their own ways. It's not right," Elden Crane said.

"For some reason, we're letting the few dictate to the many on what we should or shouldn't do," Moon said.

Despite strong opposition from many statewide, around lunchtime Wednesday, workers said they were doing what they were told.

We talked to a cleaning crew at Cloudland Cannon State Park who told us they were in the process of removing the bibles, but that's all they could say, and that they were told not to talk to the media.

By early afternoon, Governor Nathan Deal stepped in ordering those same workers put the Bibles back in all the rooms. He released this statement, "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."

READ MORE | Gov. Deal calls for return of Bibles to state cabins, lodges

"Governor Deal has stated that the bibles will be put back into our state park facilities, and we're in the process of doing that right now," Curry said.

It's a decision Georgia residents and visitors we spoke to, say they're relieved to hear.

"That's a good thing that people's doing putting the Bibles there, and if you don't want to read it, you ain't got to read it," Joey Kieffer said.

DNR officials say they want to point out that during the time the Bibles were removed, they were still available upon request. Again, they're in the process of returning bibles to the rooms now.
     
Governor Deal says any religious groups are free to donate literature. He says he and the Attorney General agree the state is on firm legal footing as the Bibles are returned.

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