Prisoners Provided with Books on Atheism and Science in Secular Humanist Initiative

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2013
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director - (207) 358-9785

Center for Inquiry to Donate Books to Freethinking Inmates, Arrange Pen Pal Connections

The Freethought Books Project, an initiative to provide prisoners with books on science and secular thought, is being taken on by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), an international secular humanist think tank and advocacy organization.

FTBooksThe project offers donated books on atheism, humanism, science, and skepticism to prisoners who seek alternatives to the religious proselytizing and indoctrination that is often unavoidable within the prison system. It will also connect inmates with volunteer pen pals at CFI branches with whom they can connect and share ideas.

“These individuals want access to books and ideas based in rationality, science, and skepticism—not religious dogma,” said project coordinator Sarah Kaiser. “By providing books, as well as connections through the pen pal network, we offer prisoners much-needed ties to the outside world and open minds to the wonders of science and critical thinking.”

The Freethought Books Project was founded in 2005 by Leslie Zukor, then a student at Reed College in Oregon, as a way to give prisoners an opportunity to educate themselves in scientific skepticism, humanism, and other secular subjects, and to counteract the pernicious and overwhelming influence of religious proselytizing to which they are so often subjected. During her tenure as project coordinator, Zukor collected over 2,300 books and magazines, which the Freethought Books Project sent to dozens of prisoners across the United States.

Now run by the Center for Inquiry, the project is poised to help educate and inspire many more within the prison system, as publishing houses Beacon Press and Pitchstone Publishing have already pledged or provided dozens of titles.  

“Books can open doors—to new ideas, new opportunities, and new ways of thinking,” said Kaiser. “Freethought books offer hope based on truth, rather than myth or superstition.”

Those who wish to donate books, either by purchasing them from a list of desired titles or by direct donation of personal books can visit

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at