Gideons International: Wikis


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A Gideon member placing a Bible in a motel room.

Gideons International (also known as Gideon's Bible) is an evangelical Protestant organization dedicated to distributing copies of the Bible in over 80 languages and 190 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.

Nearly 76.9 million Gideon Scriptures were given out in 2007. Close to 1.5 billion have been distributed since 1908.[1]



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

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.

A copy of a Bible distributed by Gideons International.

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 students. A typical Gideon Bible or New Testament contains:

  • a short preface;
  • a pamphlet suggesting Bible verses that may be of assistance in various sorts of trouble;
  • translations of John 3:16 into a variety of languages and scripts;
  • the Bible text itself, 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), or just the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs (typical of the copies handed out as gifts to individuals);
  • a short description of Biblical salvation, with Biblical quotations, and a place for the reader to sign and date his confession of Jesus (this is especially common in the shorter editions the New Testament and Psalms).

The Gideons principally use the King James Version for their Bibles.[2] The Gideons also distribute New King James Bibles and Testaments, which they refer to as "Modern English Version" (MEV) Bibles and Testaments. According to the Gideon Guidebook, these MEV Scriptures are used as a supplement to the KJV Bibles. Typically, MEV Bibles are allowed to be distributed only when either the Bible purchaser or the recipient specifies a desire for a modern Bible.

Colors of Testaments distributed

The covers of the New Testaments distributed by the Gideons are color coded based on which groups they're meant for:

  • Orange: for sidewalk distribution to middle/high school students
  • Green: for college/university students
  • Red: for in-school distribution to Middle/High school students
  • Digital Camouflage/Desert Camouflage: for the military
  • Dark blue: for law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and EMTs
  • White: for medical professionals
  • 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)


The Gideons draw their volunteer members from many (although not all) Christian denominations, as described in Article 3 of the Gideon Constitution:

Article 3.-Membership.
The membership shall consist of business and professional men, except cler­gymen, who believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God, have received Him as their per­sonal Saviour, endeavor to follow Him in their daily life, and who are members in good standing of an evangelical or Protestant church, congregation or assembly.".[3]

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. Americans United for Separation of Church and State brought suit against the school district, bringing an end to this practice.[4]

In 2009, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld a lower court ruling that found the South Iron district's distribution of Bibles to the schoolchildren in their classrooms was unconstitutional. But the court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that the district can enact a new policy permitting "any printed material" approved by the superintendent to be distributed outside classroom time [1].

Popular culture references

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




In the 1996 film Mission: Impossible, 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."

In the film Memento, Leonard remarks that a Gideon Bible is in his night stand, and that he "reads it religiously."


In "Back in the Red: Part III", 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!" [6]

In "Fifteen Minutes of Shame", an episode of the animated series Family Guy, the Griffin family has to stay in a motel, and Peter Griffin finds a Gideon Bible in the dresser. He begins to prance around the room holding the Bible open and saying in a silly voice, "Look at me! I'm a Christian! I'm reading the Bible!"

Computer Games

In the adventure game Overseer from Access Software the main character Tex Murphy finds a Gideons bible in one of the rooms of the mansion of the main antagonist of the game. This is kind of a wordplay since the name of the said villain is J. Saint Gideon.


In "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, one of the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse finds a Gideon Bible in a motel while on the run from the law.

In "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith, Francie's aunt Sissy obtains a copy of Gideon's Bible from a hotel room for her.

In "Joshua Then and Now" by Mordecai Richler, the title character's father Reuben Shapiro has a unique understanding of the bible based upon his days as a prize-fighter, when the only thing to do in the hotel room was read Gideon's Bible.

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."[7]


External links


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