I was visiting my mother in the hospital yesterday in a small north Arkansas town. It is a secular hospital and has no religious affiliations. In every room's side stand next to the patient's bed and in the waiting areas was a Gideon's bible. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised by this observation, especially here in the South of Xtian America. I wonder what reaction would be offered by the hospital administrators if they were asked permission to place a secular text alongside the Gideon's bible. BTW, in the past 13 years alone, ONE BILLION Gideon's bibles have been distributed globally, in numerous languages. The ACLU has taken Gideon's International to task for distributing bibles during school hours at locations throughout America. Since Gideons is not slowing down in their fervent distribution, of what should not be referred to as the 'Good Book', I wonder why the secular community has not responded with a publication of their own designed to inform school children and others in general that other perspectives about supernatural phenomena are available for their consideration. Richard Dawkins' children's book would be a good candidate for the middle schoolers. But seriously, why does the atheist/agnostic community not join together and generate a work that targets our youth and serves to offer them a different take on the realities of life? It's design and scope of coverage would have to be well thought out to attract the attention and interest of our youth. Would there be a backlash by school administrators, teachers, and, even the student populace? Probably, but they would have to get over that wouldn't they? How much money is the secular community looking at to consider entertaining this notion? Would it be effective in this year of 2015? Is it even necessary with the ubiquitous internet reaching more and more homes?
I would love to one day walk into a hospital or motel room and pull a drawer open and there sits a copy of the "The Freethinking Human". I can dream can't I?
In 2008, Americans United for Separation of Church and State brought suit against the South Iron R-1 School District in Missouri for allowing the Gideons to distribute Bibles during class time. In 2009, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld a lower court ruling that found the South Iron district's distribution of Bibles to the schoolchildren in their classrooms was unconstitutional. An "attorney representing the South Iron School District in Annapolis, Mo., said the decision allows a new policy to finally be implemented, one that allows any group to hand out literature at the rural district, including information on how children can obtain Bibles.
The Gideons International continues to contact youth in America through The Life Book, coordinating with churches and their youth to distribute copies of the Bible in high schools. The Alliance Defending Freedom, as of 2013, maintains that there are "constitutionally permissible ways in which Gideons Bibles may be distributed" and attorneys Rory Gray and Jeremy Tedesco write that the Alliance Defending Freedom sent letters to 174 school districts in Kentucky, stating that "Federal case law overwhelmingly supports the decision to grant religious and non-religious community groups an equal opportunity to provide literature to willing students". In 2014, the "Gideons International again distributed Bibles at a public elementary school in Kentucky" in early 2014.
These days I wonder whether the Gideons have run their course.
After all, the interwebs are available most everywhere, and the bible is readily available on the net. Does distribution of physical books really offer much anymore?
Despite the fact the Gideons distribute the gawd-awful KJV, on long trips in hotels here and there I have occasionally been grateful for their thoughtfulness.
In most cases a good sci-fi book would have been preferred, however.
Bob- "These days I wonder whether the Gideons have run their course."
With ONE Billion passed out in the past 13 yrs. they haven't been told that evidently. That's a distribution rate of around 200,000 copies PER DAY! If the wiki is right about those numbers then Gideons has some serious contribution dollars rolling there way, tax deductible of course.
Bob - "In most cases a good sci-fi book would have been preferred, however."
there's good sci-fi and bad sci-fi I agree...... ;^ )
Here is a game that all your friends and family can play for free - Hide the Bible!! Please post your pictures on TA. :-)
When someone finally found a bible wedged behind the toilet.... "there was a great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth."
I suppose one can always take it with you and use it for fuel.
The Gideons have also been known to use the New King James Version, so I made sure to nab one of them and add it to my collection.
Gideons have more Bibles in hotel rooms than schools. I like the notion of regular deliveries to the stock exchange and to banks.
Personally, I've never been convinced of the efficacy of giving a Bible to a kid, or to an atheist or agnostic or anyone other than someone who is already a believer. They all try to read it like a book, get confused in Genesis and then completely bog down in Leviticus.
Far better to give them some simplified catechetical booklet.
Better still to just live a good life and care for folks.
Let a child read Leviticus without any adult supervision? Really? God should surely smite any parent allowing such an abuse to occur.