By now, I should be used to stories like this. The deletion of free Bibles from public schools, and the almost-required Christian bile hurled in the way of those-who-dare-to-question.
If my daughter had attended a public school in fifth grade, I would have been opposed to her receiving a Protestant KJV too. While most small Gideon Bibles only contain a New Testament, plus Psalms and Proverbs (I have two or three in the house and my church office), even their full version omits what I could consider important items: Tobit, Baruch, Sirach, and a few others. I wouldn’t expect an evangelical Christian group to provide Catholic bibles to Catholic students, and on the same wavelength, I can see how non-Christians would insist their eleven-year-olds not be subject to even the subtlest pressure on the religion front in the setting of their peers.
When I worked in a small Iowa town a decade ago, a similar discussion came up with high-school athletes having organized prayer led by adults. One of my parishioners, a woman who worked for the school, was curious about my objection to this. Among the Christians on the team, I wondered openly, would different students be free or even willing to bring prayers from their respective Christian traditions, to these meetings? What do you mean, she asked. Would Protestant adults permit and welcome a Catholic athlete suggesting they pray the Rosary? The thoughtful silence told me all I needed to know.
Gideons International in Canada seems prepared to accept and end to the free offer. Spokesman Kelvin Warkentin:
Over time, due to the religious fabric of our country being re-woven, school boards have begun to re-evaluate their policies on this tradition. The Gideons’ response to the school boards’ decisions to discontinue the distributions has always been complete acceptance.
Evangelization is not easy. Even the Protestants would acknowledge you need a lot more than a free Bible dropped into a non-believer’s lap. There is no substitute for one-on-one ministry to another person. The threats levied at the Bluewater District School Board tell you all you need to know about this flawed expression of Christianity and the clumsy sense of entitlement some Christians insist on clutching at. Time to get to work, if you really believe what you preach.