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AHLC Sues Virginia Prison over Censorship

For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Couch, 202-238-9088,

David Niose, 202-238-9088,

(Washington, D.C., August 31, 2017)—The American Humanist Association’s (AHA) Appignani Legal Center filed a complaint today against the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) regarding their refusal to allow the July/August issue of the Humanist to be delivered to a prisoner because it contained a picture of a painting, by the renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens, depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in which Eve’s breasts are exposed.

One of the defendants in the case, Ivan Gilmore, the warden at Coffeewood Correctional Center, has rejected numerous publications on the grounds that they violate the prohibition of nudity. Among those magazines are several recognized artist magazines designed, in part, to educate artists. Although the VDOC does prohibit “material that contains nudity, that prohibition may not be applied to publications containing nudity illustrative of medical, educational, or anthropological content.

“Our magazine takes an in-depth look at some of the most pressing issues of the day, and there is absolutely no basis for withholding it from inmates,” said David Niose, AHA legal director. “We take government censorship of published material very seriously, and we will defend our right to circulate the magazine.”

The AHA’s complaint can be found here.


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

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