Two schools block Gideons offering Bibles

Two schools in Staffordshire have been accused of trying to “silence Christianity” by banning the Gideons from offering children a free Bible.

Despite thousands of schools welcoming the respected group each year, Abbot Beyne School and Paget High School claimed the offer of a Bible was inappropriate.

Critics say the schools are being overly sensitive and questioned whether they may be pushing an agnostic agenda.


Each year the Gideons offer copies of the New Testament and Psalms to children in thousands of British secondary schools.

The Bible Society’s Canon Dr Ann Holt said: “I have never met a single person of another faith in this country who objected to distribution of Bibles and the robust teaching of Christian Faith. They expect it.

“Such actions tend to come from white agnostics with an agenda of their own, or from people who really do not know how to manage the co-existence of a number of faiths, other than by outlawing them all.”


And Gideons supporter Barry Martin said: “We live in a Christian country. I think that if the Gideons want to offer Bibles to children then they should be allowed to do so.

“Banning them is not right because these schools are trying to silence Christianity and we must fight to defend it. Christians make this world a better place.”

Deputy head teacher of Abbot Beyne School, Maggie Tate, said they had stopped the Gideons coming in because “we are a comprehensive multi-faith school”.

She added: “We felt it was inappropriate to allow one faith group to distribute material in school.”


Don Smith, head teacher at Paget High School said: “As a non-denominational school, we do not allow any religious groups to come in and give out literature.”

He continued: “If we allowed the Gideons into school then we would have to allow other groups too. While we teach pupils about different religions, we do not want people coming in to the school and pushing their own religious views.”

At the beginning of this year secularists called for a ban on Christian assemblies, saying they breach children’s human rights.


The National Secular Society wrote to Education Secretary Michael Gove demanding an end to the long-standing practice.

But a spokesman for his department said the law on Christian assemblies “encourages pupils to reflect on the concept of belief and the role it plays in the traditions and values of this country”.

In 2009 Government-backed guidance told librarians to store Bibles and other religious texts on the top shelf in order to avoid offending Muslims.

The guidance suggests moving all religious texts to the top shelf because of the Muslim belief that the Koran should not be kept among ‘common things’.

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