I don’t recall the exact moment when I realized I disagreed with the mission of the Gideons. I do remember wondering what that realization made me. A dick? A “religious person”? That was a worrying thought, mostly because I wasn’t sure why I didn’t approve of them. Something just didn’t sit right about the whole approach: give people a Bible in order to “save” them and ultimately turn them into little evangelists who then give other people Bibles and create other little evangelists. The whole operation looks and sounds remarkably (and uncomfortably) similar to some sort of grand spiritual pyramid scheme.
My experience with the Gideons is limited: a New Testament at the end of baccalaureate when I graduated from public high school or a leather-bound copy in a hotel’s bedside table drawer once in a while. My reaction in those situations was never, “Oh, how nice and thoughtful;” it was more along the lines of, “Why?” As I’ve thought about it more, it seems that the problem with the whole enterprise is a misunderstanding of the Bible itself and how it should be used. Yes, there is a right way to do it. Continue reading