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Banning the Bible in the NHS


There is a small story happening in the Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway which tells us a great deal about what is happening the UK today

At first glance it just appears like a minor spat that is hardly newsworthy at all. But the story and how it is reported is revealing of the current state of the culture and the church in the UK.

The new Dumfries hospital

The basic facts are that Gideon bibles were due to be placed in every room in the new state of the art Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.   But one person complained that this was giving Christianity preferential treatment and therefore should be stopped.   The NHS board agreed and so the Bibles will not be placed – although patients are free to request them if they wish.   So what does this tell us?

Atheist secularists are able to impose their views on the whole of society because those who are the decision makers in our culture lack both reason and courage. In what possible world can it do any harm merely to have a bible placed in a room?   It is not reasonable to claim that it gives one religion an advantage. The vast majority in that area of Scotland profess some kind of Christianity or are non-religious.   It is offensive to other religions to imply that they would be offended at bibles being made available. When I am in a Muslim country I am not offended at the Koran being available. When I fly Malaysian airways I don’t get upset when the TV unit tells me where Mecca is so that I can face the right direction when I pray.   It’s called tolerance. The trouble is that our militant secularists have no concept of tolerance and cannot conceive of a world in which their every diktak is not followed. They use the excuse of multi-faith to ban any expression of faith (and especially Christian faith) in the public sphere.

And ‘civic society’ permits this pettiness. In the UK today it only takes one atheist to complain using the buzz words of equality and diversity and the whole establishment falls over themselves to oblige the poor wee hurt soul who might just possibly be offended. One example of this is when Perth Council banned schools using a helpful Scripture Union book on moving from primary to secondary school, just because at one point it mentioned prayer. One militant atheist complained. Result – book banned from being distributed. In this latest instance there is one complaint – result – bible banned from being distributed.   The irony is that in the name of equality, diversity and tolerance we are becoming more unequal, less diverse and more intolerant.

The response of the church is often pathetically weak. If the remarks of the Gideon Gideons-bible_article_imagespokesperson are reported accurately (by no means a given), then they are indicative of why we are in so much trouble. ““We discussed this and thought the last thing we want to do is to put people’s backs up by being pushy, so we’ll accept that.’”   Personally I would have thought that the last thing we want to do is give into the kind of intolerance and irrationality displayed in this bigoted behaviour. The bad news is that the good news does often put peoples backs up. Of course we don’t intentionally go out to offend but the last time I looked every time Jesus and the Apostles preached the good news they seemed to get both a good and an adverse reaction. You don’t ‘turn the world upside down’ (Acts 17:6), by not wanting to get peoples backs up. Given that we live in a society where everyone seems to spend most of their time with their backs up – if that is our criteria, our preaching of the Gospel is going to be somewhat limited!

The media in general don’t have a clue about Christianity.   No – Christian leaders are not ‘furious’ because of the ban on Gideon bibles. We are sorrowful. We are tired. We are compassionate. We care that there are many people who would actually get help during illness from reading Gods word (and who would be reluctant to ask) but they will now not be able to do so.  Our sorrow stems from watching our culture slide into a fundamentalist secularism that seeks to remove all the Christian foundations of our society. We know that we cannot have the fruits (tolerance, equality and diversity) without the roots….and so we mourn for the poor, the weak and the sick- as we see our culture regressing into the Greco/Roman/Pagan world that Christianity saved us from.

The hospital bible ban demonstrates that we are well on our way to becoming a Godless culture, policed by militant secularists and opposed by a gutless Christianity. It’s sad that those lying in hospital sick and fearful, won’t be able to read about the great healer, the one who calls all to come to him and receive rest. The words of Christ as he wept over Jerusalem are surely apposite for the UK today. We share in his tears.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)

Premier Christianity have an article on this and a recorded interview with yours truly which you can access here – 

Note:  This was an article written for Christian Today but not published by them.  I have been told that my services are no longer required.  I think it is for financial reasons.  I have been writing two articles a week for them for the past year – so it will be good to have the free time to do other things.




  1. Atheist secularists ? Really David are you still peddlingt this? Maybe its just secularists.

    Can you not see that this could be seen as a government body funded by all of us endorsing one particular religion?

    Maybe you would be just as happy with copies of the Koran?

    1. Thanks – you prove my point. This is not costing the government a penny. These bibles are provided for free. If we were in a country where the majority of people were Muslim I wouldn’t have a problem with the Koran being provided. This is atheist secularists seeking to impose their views on all of us and seeking to ensure that nothing but their views are allowed in the public sphere. Its your version of ‘tolerance’.

      1. Bit of a storm in a teacup really David.

        Any patient who feels the strongly about having access to a bible would surely have recourse to having one brought in to them through a friend or a relative and could make do with prayer until salvation arrived with the delivery of a copy in to their trembling hands.

        Why exactly should an outside agency be given access to a hospital to place a copy of the book they consider central to their faith in every room?

        The reason someone or some group wish to place a copy of the bible in every room of a hospital has very little to do with their wish to address the circumstance that someone sharing their faith may find themselves in that room in dire need of a bible.

        The placing of Gideon bibles is about the obligation the faithful feel to spread the gospel. It is about evangelism.

  2. Will patients really be advised that Gideon bibles are available to them upon request? Where will they be stored – centrally or in each room? When I went looking for a Bible to use with a dying friend in GLASGOW Royal Infirmary there was no Bible available there and none of the ward staff had any idea where to get hold of one. This decision is in effect a total ban on patient access to the Bible in the new hospital, except for those who bring in their own copy. No doubt the next stage on the aggressive atheist agenda will be to campaign to ban all Hospital Chaplaincies (except Humanist ones, of course).

    1. While one can appreciate how Christians feel considerable chagrin over such issues, it is a stark reminder that this particular religion does not hold sway anymore.
      It is a pluralistic society that features many diverse religions and cultures.
      It does not necessarily diminish the faith of the individual and I doubt the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth would have batted an eyelid.
      After all, how many New Testaments were around in his day?
      In fact , how many could have read one even if they were?
      I’m sure most Christians can remember the Lord’s Prayer?
      If you really need a bible to be Christian then maybe you aren’t quite so Christian as you thought you were?

  3. While agreeing this refusal to allow bibles to be left in patients’ lockers in hospital reflects a dispiriting intolerance, I would suggest we need to think in a more 21st century way.
    Only paper copies of the bible are being banned. The bible in multiple translations and languages is freely available on line. All you need is a smart phone or tablet and internet access. Free wi Fi is provided in most hospitals now. The bible is therefore freely available.
    Perhaps we should not advertise this in case the health authorities ban wi Fi in order to avoid anyone being offended at being able to access the bible in hospital!

  4. What we need in every place in which the Bible is banned is a group of Bible-believing Christians to then become visitors to these sick and lonely people and talk to them about salvation, leaving a Bible behind for their personal use.

    1. I’m extremely offended at any religions material being made available by the NHS. The NHS is owned by us all and as such no group should be able to peddle their nonsense freely. I wonder if we placed a copy of the gay times at every bedside what the Christians would have to say

  5. I think I agree with Roderick Shaw. Very few people go around without a smartphone or tablet now, so Gideons International, while it does an excellent work by placing printed Bibles in public buildings, it needs also to promote the use of online Bibles. Gideons is very much a ‘face to face’ organisation, with people talking to people, so I believe if it promoted its own Bible app (or indeed one of the other available Bible apps) more widely, its effects could be even further-reaching than they are now.

  6. This is not so much a small story as a big story about small-minded people. Could we object to Stonewall coming into our schools, etc on the ground that people who suffer from other kinds of bullying might be offended and in any case this would be giving Stonewall ‘preferential treatment’.

  7. Good point Roderick. That is indeed what I would use. But I have in mind the many elderly patients in hospital who are often not all that computer savvy and they at least will be discriminated against by the lack of access to a hard copy of the Bible in their rooms.

  8. How about copies of the Koran, Vedas, upanishads, bhagavad gita? Isn’t there something to be said for not preferencing one Faith over another? How bout a book case of different religious texts for the person to choose what he would like to consult?

    1. Not the issue…look at the demographics of the region….tell me why free bibles placed at no cost to the NHS and which are welcome and helpful to many people should be banned because of the ideological prejudice of one atheist?

      1. It costs the hospital and the government nothing to let these bibles be placed. Tax exemption is for charitable organisations and also costs the government nothing.

      2. Tax exemption for religious organisations – Churches etc is nothing more than tax avoidance.

        While the government doesn’t ”fork out” everyone does in the long run so the religious can go about their grubby little business of distributing fallacious nonsense.

        Let’s be honest, who pays your salary and exactly what ”work” do you do to deserve it?
        Why not go and offer to clean the rest rooms in the hospital or do other volunteer work that will have a genuine, positive impact at the hospital instead of bleating on about the removal of your religious privilege?
        And once again, the bibles are still there.
        If the paper is good quality and nice and soft I’d put them in the toilets. At least they would have some real practical use.

      3. Ark – again you are displaying a sad level of ignorance and prejudice. Churches don’t avoid paying tax…as charities for the public good we are exempt from business tax – but that is because we are not businesses. We pay income tax etc.

        My salary is paid by my congregation – the government pays nothing. I usually work between 60 and 80 hours per week for a salary which is less than 70% of the national average waste…but enough…

      4. Charities for the public good?
        Hmm? Well, I would strongly suggest this is a matter of opinion, if not an oxymoron, and especially if one considers Mother Theresa and her shenanigans.

        I never suggested the government pays your salary or even contributes.
        I questioned your definition of work.

        I suppose Jesus was content with victuals. But then in his day things were probably a bit different.

      5. Mother Thersea is dead and was in India. Not quite sure what that has to do with charity law in Scotland?! And no – the public good is not a ‘matter of opinion’ – it is a required legal test. Thankfully the world is not run by your opinions!

      6. You wrote … ”Churches don’t avoid paying tax… as charities for the public good

        I am disputing your claim that churches (as charities ) are for the public good, which I firmly believe is and always has been an erroneous statement.

      7. What you believe and what is reality are two different things. Of course with your atheist fundamentalist anti-Christian prejudice you are never going to accept that churches are for the public good. That is not the view of the law or the government.

      8. It’s impossible to quantify the amount of good done by the church for the public. We see the occasional negative effects because they make the news, but the churches’ constant beneficial influences on individual and social wellbeing are largely hidden and can’t be calculated.

      9. Impossible?
        Well, maybe.

        We see the occasional negative effects

        Occasional! Are you serious?
        Let’s be perfectly honest with each other shall we, and admit that any good that may have arisen has come on the back of the devastation wreaked by religion in general upon indigenous populations, and the Christian church in this instance is a matter of historical record.
        Even if we ignore the internecine wars in the earlier centuries, often fought simply over points of doctrine; the extermination of the Cathars for example, one only has to look at the genocides in the Americas.

        Is the price of this supposed good you claim really been worth it?
        All the millions upon millions who have died merely to emotionally brow beat people into accepting that a blood sacrifice of the character Jesus of Nazareth is crucial for them to supposed have an eternal life after death?
        Of course David will read this reply and if he lets it through will likely tell me I am either exaggerating or simply showing my ”atheist bias.”

        Humans and their gods.
        I wonder sometimes, I really do.

      10. Give yourself a balanced view, Ark, by counting up the number of bad Christian institutions and then calculate the number of good ones, down the decades, and decide whether, on balance, Christian institutions and churches are good or bad influence on humanity.

      11. I already outlined the reality of the Christian church and how it achieved its place in the sun – by and large through conquest and bloodshed.
        That is an indisputable fact.

        I think what you need to do is re-look at the history with a more honest view rather than trying to whitewash what really transpired with an ”Oh, that’s all water under the bridge.” attitude.

        And remember, it is not only Christianity one should be aware of.
        All the others have their share of vileness to answer for in thenname of whatever god they were/are promoting.

        If you were brave and honest enough to actually address the points of my comment I might be incline to believe you had a genuine interest in the truth.

      12. Ark – this is why your posts have to be limited….sometimes they become laughable….it is NOT an ‘indisputable fact’ that Christianity spread through conquest and bloodshed. In fact no-one (ie. no serious historian) would argue that Christianity in the first 400 years spread by that way at all….meanwhile if you want to look at how atheism has spread…and its consequences feel free. Any atheist country will do….

      13. So you’re obviously not interested in a balanced view Arkenaten. You have outlined a number of disastrous events which made the history books, with no regard to the unrecorded, unseen, day-to-day benefits which the Christian church has brought to millions down the centuries and continues to bring today. You’ve never heard of my church have you? Why? Because it’s never made the news with any kind of scandal or investigation and it hides no skeletons in its cupboards. And that applies to thousands of churches worldwide. I suggest you stop cherry-picking.

      14. The demographics are most people in Scotland do not read or care about the Bible religion has just been declared a weapon of mass destruction in Iceland so long may its demise continue

  9. Are we a Christian country? The last time I looked the surveys don’t show this, nor the attendance at church show this. So why place bibles where the majority don’t need or want them? If you are Christian bring your own.

    1. You should look again at the surveys then. Most people have some kind of Christian profession. What harm does the free placement of bibles in rooms do? Why should it be prevented?

      1. Are we allowed to post surveys of religiosity? What are Christian professions that you speak of? When the latest surveys do not show this. I reiterate church numbers are falling. Harm of free placement? It’s up to how you measure that, I would say it’s more offensive. If you are a Christian bring your own bible. Why have something cluttering up a place of medical care, where science not religion is saving people. Let Muslims bring their book, let Hindus theirs, Mormons theirs, and so on.

      2. Church numbers are falling – but the majority of people in the UK still profess some kind of Christianity. People of course can bring their own book but as has already been indicated there are many who have found the bible helpful – who don’t have one. I repeat – what harm does it to to have a bible in a private drawer in the individual rooms? Its only prejudice that makes you deprive others of something that may comfort and help them.

    2. Rev Robertson is of course blocking my response to his question. But you and Jeff are quite right. It’s his prejudice and bias that’s being removed from the priveledged status. That’s why he’s claiming persecution.

      1. I hadn’t blocked any response – I am currently in Australia and don’t stay on my computer the whole time so just approve posts in blocks when I get a chance. But you have had yours…your rudeness and ignorance will not be posted on here…so as I am working through your posts will be removed…in effect you have blocked yourself. Feel free to display your prejudice on your own blog – if anyone is interested – they can read it there!

  10. Rather than prevent bibles being in every room, would it not be far more equal to have a policy of having the key book of each major faith available? The gospel flourishes far more in a free market of faith than inone of no faith being able to be proclaimed.

    1. No – it wouldn’t. 99% of people in that area of Scotland do not belong to other faiths…furthermore other faiths have not offered to put their books in…and the chaplaincy centre can provide them. The point is that in this case the Bibles were prevented from being placed by one complaint from one atheist.

  11. No doubt there’s a TV in every room in this new hospital, so maybe they should remove them and inform each patient that a TV is available if they request it.

      1. You do recall that Scotland didn’t qualify?

        Hence the sudden lack of interest in turning one on.

  12. Have any of the people complaining about preferential treatment for Christians botherrd themselves to find out why no other faith has offered multiple copies of their sacred texts to NHS hospitals in Dumfries and Galloway and, perhaps, elsewhere. It’s not a question of the NHS being discriminatory; it’s a matter of no other faiths offering their books.

  13. Some hospitals have a little built in plastic holder for the Gideon Bible which can make it seem a bit like the NHS is endorsing Christianity. I wouldn’t like to be in the situation where every hospital “endorses” the faith of the local population. I also don’t like the idea that people should need to ask a nurse or doctor for a bible, as that could be intimidating, especially if said Bible is not easily accessible! I wonder if a sort of mobile library that visits each patient room is the way to go?

  14. This song is by Ricky Ross and appears on the album So Long Ago (1984).

    It’s dark in the car;
    we’re deep in the Garden of England.
    It’s dark in the car;
    They’re all asleep but you and me.
    There’s time to talk
    — we’re only on holiday —
    and I think you said this to me:

    The Germans are out today.
    (They won the war, you know!)
    I didn’t look for salvation
    but, boy! I found it there.
    In an RAF bunkhouse
    I borrowed a Bible;
    the fellow who owned it
    wanted it shared.

    Outside a locked door,
    in front of a dusty store …
    Outside a locked door
    we talked through the drunken singing in the rain.
    There’s no time to talk
    — not while we’re standing here —
    but even now, I thought I heard you say:

    The Germans are out today …

    Hey, it don’t last forever!
    Hey, were we there together?
    It’s so dark in this prison life.
    Take back the years;
    hold back the tears
    on all of these days
    that might not have been there at all.

    The Germans are out today …


  15. I’ve personal experience of benefitting from reading Gideons as an unbelieving inpatient, at a time when mortality weighed heavy.
    I’ve also worked into the NHS where it was recognised that there was a spiritual aspect to good health and well being and as part of a “pastoral” care of patients.
    There is a selfish and self-absorbed, prejudiced, ignorance in those who would seek to deny anyone who may benefit. Why, indeed, would they want to stop someone from getting help from scripture, even if they, themselves wouldn’t and would mock. It’s easy to do so from the position of detached, uninvolved, relative health and wealth, tapping out, self-satisfied, smug opinions on the keyboard.
    I wonder how many of those who object have even perused Gideons and followed through with any of the references.

  16. I have a couple of points:
    1. Arkenaten is trying to make a point that church attendance is falling. I cannot comment on that as I live in the States. But even if it is – did he/she ever stop to think that this is due to God being taken out of our institutions and out of our society.
    2. As a pro-lifer, I have to tolerate abortions being performed in hospitals. Give me my Bible.
    3. Many people (even non-believers or those of little faith), when faced with a terminal illness, tend to look for comfort and answers – by turning to God. I saw this many many times while working as a hospice nurse. Give them the Bible to turn to for comfort in their darkness and time of need.
    4. And the Christian institution does work for the good of the public. I work for a Catholic institution that is non-profit. We cater to all people regardless of their beliefs, values, religion and lifestyles. We do not push any religious beliefs on them. We value them and help them. My church takes up collections to help organizations for the poor, regardless of their beliefs or religion. My daughter went to a Catholic High School who had a program which offered free tuition to eligible students who could not afford to pay regardless of their beliefs or religion – yet I paid the full cost without protest.
    5. My personal opinion is that Christians tolerate so much more that goes against their values than non-Christians do. I often feel like I can’t even speak up for my values due to the minority makes a major issue of how wrong I am. Why do I have to say “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas? Why do I have to conform with certain atheist and liberal views that go against my beliefs and values? Why am I condemned for my beliefs and opinions but have to be politically correct in tolerating those who believe otherwise? Why am I criticized for trying to spread the good news when atheists are allowed to take God out of institutions such as schools, hospitals and other workplaces? We need a Christian revival in this world.

    1. Amen! I agree with all of your points but that last point was spot-on. People will never understand just how much we as Christians have to tolerate. If we defend what we believe we are considered judgmental and hateful. I remember taking a sociology class in which we discussed homosexuality being taught in schools and I stated that while I love them just like I love anyone else (I have cousins that are gay, one of which I am very close to), I do not agree with their lifestyle and I don’t want anyone teaching my children that they should. No teacher has any right telling my child what is and isn’t morally right. I feel just as strongly about fornication – they are both wrong so it has nothing to do with me disliking homosexuals. The backlash I received from everyone in the room, including the instructor, made me regret ever saying anything at all. It is frustrating to have people constantly label believers as intolerant when they are completely blind to their own lack of tolerance. God help us.

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