Schools in England are set to receive a copy of the King James Bible from the Government as it marks 400 years of the translation.
The Bibles will include a foreword from the Education Secretary Michael Gove, the Times Educational Supplement reported.
Mr Gove said the King James Version is “one of the keystones of our shared culture”.
But secularist campaigners reacted with anger at the move – with one group calling for the Government to also send out Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species on “Darwin Day”.
The Bibles are to be sent to all primary and secondary schools and should be with schools by Easter.
Michael Gove praised the King James Version of the Bible for its impact on language and culture, saying: “Some people look at certain battles, or some look at certain parliamentary acts, as hinge moments in history.”
But he continued: “I actually think the translation of the Bible into the vernacular is a critical moment in the life of the nation.”
And the Education Secretary also said: “It’s a thing of beauty, and it’s also an incredibly important historical artefact”.
He commented: “It has helped shape and define the English language and is one of the keystones of our shared culture. And it is a work that has had international significance.”
The Government is reportedly looking for private funding for the scheme.
The National Secular Society’s President, Terry Sanderson, said: “It’s not as if Bibles are in short supply in schools.”
He added: “But if (Mr Gove) intends to go ahead with this, will he also please ensure that a copy of On the Origin of Species is sent out on Darwin Day.”
The British Humanist Association (BHA) said it was “highly unacceptable” for the Government to promote a particular religious text in every school.
BHA campaigns officer Richy Thompson said: “All state-funded schools and the Department itself should be neutral on matters of religion and belief, so that they can aim to be equally inclusive for all pupils and staff, regardless of their background”.
Earlier this month David Cameron made his own choice of Bible verses to write out in long hand – rejecting those chosen by his officials – to celebrate 400 years of the King James Version.