The governor of Georgia has ordered that Bibles that were removed from lodges at government parks throughout the state be returned. Gov. Deal’s order prompted American Atheists, a group founded in 1963 by famed atheist Madeline Murray O’Hair,1 “to ship books on atheism to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in hopes that they will be placed in every cabin in the state parks.”
At first, Georgia atheist Ed Buckner responded to the placement of the Bibles on State of Georgia property:
“Ed Buckner, 67, the former leader of the organization American Atheists, expressed his disapproval last month after finding a Gideon’s Bible in a cabin at one of the state parks. He said that he believed the Bibles violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which says that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’”
Mr. Buckner has been trying to make his case against religion and government for years.2
Mr. Buckner certainly knows by now, since he’s heard it often enough from me and others, that the First Amendment is a prohibition against what Congress can and can’t do, not what states can and can’t do regarding religion:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion or prohibiting the Free exercise thereof. . . .”
The state of Georgia is not Congress. Like all states, Georgia’s Constitution is not an atheist document. Its Preamble states:
“To perpetuate the principles of free government, insure justice to all, preserve peace, promote the interest and happiness of the citizen and of the family, and transmit to posterity the enjoyment of liberty, we the people of Georgia, relying upon the protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
In the Georgia General Assembly Unannotated Code the following instructions are given to the state’s archivist: “Encourage the study of historical documents including but not limited to those which reflect our National Motto, the Declaration of Independence, the Ten Commandments, the Constitution of the United States, and such other nationally recognized documents which contributed to the history of the State of Georgia” (45-13-41).
In issuing his order to replace the Bibles, Gov. Deal said that “any group is free to donate literature” to the park service.
So the atheists are taking the governor up on his offer by sending Why I Am Not A Muslim by Ibn Warraq, Why I Am An Atheist by Madeline Murray O’Hair, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. (For a response to Dawkins’ book see The Deluded Atheist, and for a response to Hitchens’ book, see God Is: How Christianity Explains Everything, both by Douglas Wilson. Also, take a look at the video debate between Hitchens and Wilson in Collision.)
Whoever said that atheists aren’t religious and don’t have their own “scriptures”? The books (“bible” is from the Greek word biblos and is translated as “book”) being sent by the atheist group are indicators that atheism is a faith based on the ideas and writings of other people. These books present what each of the authors believes.
To show that this is the case, Richard Dawkins, one of the authors whose “bible” the atheists want to send to Gov. Deal, said, “[I]n the arena of science you can invoke Professor So-and-So’s study published in 2008, ‘you can actually cite chapter and verse.’”3
An odd choice of words: “chapter and verse.”
Scientism and atheism are religions with their own inspired books and scientific authorities. These books are quoted to make the case for an atheist’s belief system. As soon as an atheist opens his mouth to espouse his worldview, he is a missionary for his faith. He seeks to proselytize for the religion of atheism.
- Her son, William J. Murray, denounced atheism in 1980 and became a born again Christian. He is now president of the Religious Freedom Coalition, based in Washington, D.C. [↩]
- On the evening of May 24, 2006, American Vision sponsored a debate between Mr. Buckner and William J. Federer at the Christian Worldview Conference in Toccoca, Georgia. [↩]
- Stanley Fish, “Citing Chapter and Verse: Which Scripture Is the Right One?, The New York Times (March 26, 2012). [↩]