Gideons International


Gideons International

Gideons International (also known as Gideon's Bible) is an evangelical Christian organization dedicated to distributing copies of the Bible in over 80 languages and more than 180 countries of the world to those who might not otherwise encounter it, most famously in hotel and motel rooms. The organization was founded in 1899 in Boscobel, Wisconsin as an early American parachurch organization dedicated to Christian evangelism. It began distributing free Bibles, the work it is chiefly known for, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana.

The organization describes its link to the story of Gideon thus:

:"Gideon was a man who was willing to do exactly what God wanted him to do, regardless of his own judgment as to the plans or results. Humility, faith, and obedience were his great elements of character. This is the standard that The Gideons International is trying to establish in all its members, each man to be ready to do God's will at any time, at any place, and in any way that the Holy Spirit leads."

In keeping with this symbolism, the symbol of the Gideons is a two handled pitcher and torch, recalling Gideon's victory over the Midianites as described in Judges, Chapter 7.

In addition to their well-known hotel-room Bibles, the Gideons also distribute Bibles to members of the military of various countries, to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and also to students. A typical Gideon Bible or New Testament will contain:
*a short preface;
*an apparatus suggesting Bible verses which may be of assistance in various sorts of trouble;
*translations of into a variety of different languages and scripts;
*the Bible text itself (the New King James Version translation is currently favored), without notes, references, or any other reference matter other than chapter and verse headings — this can either be the full Bible (typical of the copies placed in hotel rooms with the expectation the copy will remain in that room, rather than be taken by any one guest), or just the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs (typical of the copies handed out as gifts to particular individuals);
*a short description of Biblical salvation, with Biblical quotations, and generally a place for the reader to sign and date his confession of Jesus (this is especially common in the shorter editions of just the New Testament and Psalms).

Types of Bibles distributed

In addition to their well-known hotel-room Bibles, the Gideons also distribute New Testaments (with Psalms and Proverbs) to members of the military of various countries, to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and also to students. The covers of their New Testaments are color coded based on which groups they're meant for:

*Orange: for sidewalk distribution to middle/high school students
*Green: College/University students
*Red: for in-school distribution to Middle/High school students
*Digital Camouflage/Desert Camouflage: Military
*Dark blue: Law Enforcement Personnel/Firefighters/EMTs
*White: Medical professionals (for distribution by the Auxiliary only)
*Light blue: (for distribution by the Auxiliary only)
*Brown: Personal worker's testaments (for individual witnessing by Gideons)
*Periwinkle: Personal worker's testaments (for individual witnessing by the Auxiliary)

Membership

The Gideons draw their members (mostly volunteers) from many Christian denominations, but allow neither Catholics nor Mormons to participate. This fact has been mentioned in a surprising lawsuit involving a Mormon and Catholic family suing over school prayer. [cite web |url=http://www.mormonstoday.com/000625/N1SchoolPrayer02.shtml|title=How Could A Mormon Family Sue Over School Prayer? |accessdate=2008-08-15]

Popular culture references

The placement of Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms has made the Gideon Bible a frequent subject for comment in popular culture.

Music

*The Beatles – song – "Rocky Raccoon"
*Beulah – song – "Maroon Bible"
*Bill Hicks – comedy album – "Rant in E-Minor", He speculates how Gideons operate and considers capturing and studying them as hobby.
* Clutch – song – "Profits of Doom" – "Genesis and Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, Gideon is knocking in your hotel while you slumber."
*Fall Out Boy – song – "XO"
*Frank Zappa – song – "Room Service"
*Jay Brannan - song - "Goddamned"
*Jethro Tull – song – "Locomotive Breath"
*John Cale – song – "Gideon's Bible"
*Manic Street Preachers – album – "The Holy Bible". It included the lyrics "I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing" and "All I preach is extinction". Of the album title, Richey Edwards (lyricist) said "In every hotel in the world, the only constant is the Holy Bible." [ [http://www.greendaycommunity.org/Forum/lofiversion/index.php/t27698.html Green Day Community > Submit a Review ] ]
*My Morning Jacket – song – "Gideon"
*Pedro The Lion – song – "Rapture"
*State Radio – song – "Rash of Robberies"
*The Hold Steady – song – "Cattle and the Creeping Things"
*Jimmy Buffett – song – "This Hotel Room"

Film

In the 1996 film "", Ethan Hunt stumbles upon a clue as to the identity of a corrupt agent when he notices that the Bible in his team's safe house is a Gideon's Bible from a hotel in another city. When this clue is later revealed to the agent (played by Jon Voight), he remarks, "They stamped it, didn't they? Those damn Gideons."

In the film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", Marilyn Monroe sings "Bye, Bye, Baby" to her boyfriend before sailing. In the song, she promises "I'll be in my room alone, every post-meridian. And I'll be with my diary and that book by Mr. Gideon."

Television

In "", an episode of the British science fiction comedy series "Red Dwarf", Arnold Rimmer and Dave Lister find a Gideon Bible in their prison cell. Lister, unaware of Gideons International, comments, "He [Gideon] follows me everywhere, that bloke! I was staying in a hotel once, he left his bible behind there, as well. And two years later, another hotel, dozy git left it behind again!" [cite web |url=http://www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/trinity/410/script83.html |title=Back In The Red, part 3 - Script v0.7 |accessdate=2007-10-10 |last=Naylor |first=Doug |year=1999 |work=Red Dwarf]

Apollo 8

On Christmas Eve 1968, the astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission read from the first part of Genesis during a live television broadcast from lunar orbit. A Japanese correspondent staying at a Houston hotel while covering the mission called NASA Public Affairs to request a copy of the speech that the astronauts were reading. The Public Affairs official asked where he was staying and then told him that if he opened the desk drawer in his room he would find a book and that he should open it to page one. The reporter found the Gideon Bible and later reported that "NASA Public Affairs is very efficient - they had a mission transcript waiting in my hotel room." [ [http://www.astronautix.com/flights/apollo8.htm Apollo 8 ] ]

Distribution of Bibles during school hours

For several years, the South Iron R-1 School District in Missouri allowed Gideons International to distribute Bibles to fifth-grade students during class time. The ACLU brought suit against the school district and brought an end to this practice. [ [http://www.au.org/site/News2?abbr=pr&page=NewsArticle&id=10011 "Missouri Public School Must Stop Distribution of Bibles To Fifth-Graders, AU Tells Court".] Retrieved on 2008-09-05.]

References

External links

* [http://www.gideons.org/ The Gideons International official site]


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