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Cameron's Bible plan attracts unchristian feeling

news | Published in TES magazine on 25 November, 2011 | By: Richard Vaughan

Secularist anger as the King James edition is sent to every school

It is regarded by many as the most important book ever published in English and, to recognise its significance on the 400th anniversary of its completion, the prime minister is to send a King James Bible to every school in the country.

The Bible’s translation was ordered by King James I in 1604 as an attempt to forge unity between rival religious factions. And while it is unlikely David Cameron’s act will unify his Government with the teaching unions, it is hoped the move will help the nation’s pupils to appreciate the impact of the text.

According to Number 10, the exact details of how the Government intends to commemorate the anniversary are yet to be confirmed, but TES understands that ministers are set to take the highly controversial step of sending a copy of the Bible to every school, complete with a foreword by education secretary Michael Gove.

It is perhaps unsurprising that this proposal has been criticised by non- religious groups, which believe it is a bad use of public money. The National Secular Society (NSS) questioned why the Department for Education could not put a message up on its website and save the country “tens of thousands of pounds”.

“It’s not as if Bibles are in short supply in schools,” NSS president Terry Sanderson said. “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.

“This book is much harder to find in schools and would be in line with his policy of promoting science and evidence-based education. I’m sure that he could write an excellent foreword to this, too,” Mr Sanderson added.

And the British Humanist Association (BHA) said it was “highly unacceptable” for the Government to promote a particular religious text in every school.

“Either the Government is funding this initiative itself at a time when it is making severe cuts elsewhere, or the Church is funding it but using the Government as a vehicle through which to promote Christianity - both are unacceptable,” said BHA campaigns officer Richy Thompson.

“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,” he added.

The Government, however, is insistent that one does not have to be a Christian to believe the translation of the Bible was a “critical moment” in giving knowledge to the masses and therefore hugely important.

“Some people look at certain battles, or some look at certain parliamentary acts, as hinge moments in history,” Mr Gove said. “I actually think the translation of the Bible into the vernacular is a critical moment in the life of the nation.”

He went further, adding that the King James Bible was the most important book written in the English language.

“It’s a thing of beauty, and it’s also an incredibly important historical artefact,” he added. “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.”


Issuing popular texts and documentaries to schools can become a political minefield for governments, as Labour discovered when it sent out An Inconvenient Truth, the climate-change film made by former US vice- president Al Gore (pictured).

The decision led to the former Department for Children, Schools and Families being taken to the High Court in 2007 by father-of-two Stewart Dimmock, who said the film was politically biased, scientifically inaccurate and contained “sentimental mush”. He called for it to be banned and accused the Government of “brainwashing” pupils with propaganda.

Guidance had to be issued to teachers telling them to warn pupils there were other opinions on climate change and that they should not necessarily accept the views of the film.


Original headline: Mr Cameron’s big Bible plan attracts unchristian feeling

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Comment (8)

  • I'll do my best not to let the fact that I am a rational thinking atheist influence this post; but it is difficult.

    Question: How on earth could Gove or his advisers think this was a 'good' idea?

    My good friend Mr Prescott summed up financial matters on twitter saying: 'And Gove gave unto 20,000 schools a bible that cost £10 a piece and the taxpayer wasted £200,000 on a vanity project.'

    Each copy of the bible contains a foreword from Michael Gove. If that doesn't wind up a great number of christians I don't know what will?

    Mr Gove may not have noticed that there are many children in this country who aren't christian. Yes, honest! Some are jews, some are muslims, some are rastafarians, some are hindu, some are sikh, I could go on but I won't. Gove may also notice that a very large number of children have no faith as they have weighed the evidence available (zero evidence that is) and come to the conclusion that they were born with no faith; they'd like to keep it that way.

    Is there anyone, apart from Gove worshippers at the TES who isn't insulted by this development?

    If Gove really wanted to tell everyone his religious message and inner feelings a message on the DfE website would have saved thens of thousands of taxpayer pounds and much insult.

    I do hope Mr Gove sends round copies of the Torah, the Koran, Star Trek, the Pyramid texts of Ancient Egypt, the Diamond Sutra and copies of the Kama Sutra for the atheists. I'd love to read his inscription in each & every one of them.

    LOL, LOL and thrice LOL.

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    26 November, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • At the moment Genesis is being altered to read:

    And in the beginning Gove created havoc!

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    28 November, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • With 90 per cent of schools expected to be closed on Wednesday due to strike action over public sector pensions, Michael Gove made a last-ditch rant at teachers saying we have been bullied by union bosses into taking strike action which will be the largest action in more than 30 years.

    What an idiot; if he isn't playing god adding his little bit to the bible he can be seen of a screen near you seriously ranting.

    The Education Secretary can insist over & over again that public sector workers are being offered a "good deal" but WE KNOW BETTER. He keeps ranting that it is "unfair and unrealistic" to expect taxpayers to foot the increasing bill for pensions when we know that WE ARE FULLY FUNDING OUR PENSIONS.

    I do think the guy has seriously lost it......................LOL

    Wednesday is being billed by unions as the biggest day of strike action in more than 30 years.

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    28 November, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • I just downloaded a free kindle copy to my PC from Amazon,should save a bit of money...

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    29 November, 2011

    Jason N

  • I had thought that my opinion of Gove couldn't sink any lower... but his latest bizarre action has just proved me wrong. Who can take this man and his idiotic utterances seriously?

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    30 November, 2011


  • The Bible simply doesn't withstand scrutiny. Its "Old Testament" was compiled from the 24 texts of the Hebrew "Tanakh", rearranged and edited, with others added that Jews do not recognise as "scripture". The "New Testament" was compiled from manuscripts by assorted authors, often writing anonymously or under an assumed name, to lend greater authenticity. Several "councils" were held in the 4th century to select and reject manuscripts for inclusion: notably the Council of Nicaea in 325, stage-managed by the politically-motivated Emperor Constantine and Bishop Eusebius. Eastern Orthodox churches continue to use different selections of books from western Bibles.

    Doubts about biblical authenticity have been raised --and censored-- for a thousand years, or more, as Richard Friedman describes in the first chapter of "Who wrote the Bible" [1996]. In the remainder of the book he explains how the first five books, traditionally attributed to Moses, were not authored by Moses at all. Indeed, two similar but distinct and inconsistent accounts, relating to the distinct religious practices, politics, and traditions of Israel in the north and Judah in the south, were melded together: but not so well that literary analysis of the text couldn't separate them clearly and reveal the differences in vocabulary, style, and interests. Although useful groundwork was done in 1651 by Thomas Hobbes, and first developed in 1711 --300 years ago!-- by German minister H.B. Witter, churches continue oblivious, like ostriches, praying that no one will notice.

    Prof. Bart Ehrman, once "an extremely zealous, rigorous, pious (self-righteous), studious, committed evangelical Christian", has written several books on biblical authorship: most recently "Forged: Writing in the Name of God -- Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are", [2011]. He discusses the motivations early Christian writers had for amending existing documents and for forging new ones under the name of other authors. Although this was viewed by contemporaries as a deceitful and illicit practice, there are "numerous" forgeries in the New Testament, including "two books that falsely claim to have been written by Peter and six that falsely claim to have been written by Paul". Christian authors have been lying "not only today, but also in the Middle Ages, in late antiquity, and in the time of the New Testament. From the first century to the twenty-first century, people who have called themselves Christian have seen fit to fabricate, falsify, and forge documents, in most instances in order to authorize views they wanted others to accept".

    In "Astonishing Credulity" [2011], Michael Lawrence demonstrates that the New Testament epistles and "Revelations" were written during the period 9 BCE - 70 CE: BEFORE the gospels and "Acts", which were completely unknown to Christian writers until as late as 150 CE. As the epistles and "Revelations" contain NO mention of the Jesus stories related in the gospels or "Acts" --including virgin birth, miracles, crucifiction, and resurrection-- we must conclude that the early Christians were either unaware of them, or considered them irrelevant: quite unlike churches today. Yet nearly 4,000 years ago, Ancient Egyptians celebrated "Easter" at the Spring Equinox: the resurrection of the god Osiris three days after he was killed by Seth/Satan. A stone pillar, now in Germany in the Berlin Museum, records details of the celebrations: Another stone --the Metternich Stele-- relates a detailed, Ancient Egyptian, close parallel to the tale of Moses in the bullrushes. Clay tablets from Iraq around 2100 BCE contain the Epic of Gilgamesh, which parallels Noah's flood long before Old Testament. Both the Old and New Testaments borrowed heavily from older religions: and much of the ministry of Jesus was lifted from Old Testament prophecies, taken out of context. Lawrence states: "the only similarity between Christianity pre-70 CE and that which is promoted by the Church today is the name. The content of the theology was completely changed to suit the political aims and despotic rule of the Roman Empire post-325 CE".

    Babylonian stone tablets, over eight feet high and now in the Louvre Museum in Paris, record the 282 laws of Hammurabi --king from 1792 to 1750 BCE-- which were plagiarised some thousand years later in Leviticus: e.g. "Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth", Lev.24,20.

    In "Jesus never existed" [2008], Kenneth Humphreys cites example after example of how early Christian writers knew nothing about Jesus Christ as a man who lived on Earth: though later writers lifted phrases and entire stories from other contexts, to construct His life. John the Baptist really did exist, baptising his followers, and was probably executed in 36 CE: but as his sect persisted for several hundred years, he hardly would have venerated or worshipped J.C.. Christian bishops in the early second century knew nothing about J.C.: Theophilus in Antioch wrote 29,000 words on Christianity, but never once mentioned J.C.; Tertullian in Carthage, "an active forger", amended Christian texts and wrote new ones, distancing Christianity from Judaism, to appease the Emperor; and Marcion in Rome had no Holy Family, rejected Jewish scripture (the "Old Testament") completely, and taught that salvation came in Eden from the serpent's introduction to the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The story of Mary and Joseph curiously parallels the Egyptian tale of Aseneth, a chaste priestess who was visited by an angel and married a Jew called Joseph. In 134 CE, Emperor Hadrian (who walled off the Scots) wrote that Christians in Egypt worshipped the god Serapis: derived from the earlier divine trinity of Osiris, Isis (the mother), and Horus (the child). In Luxor the temple of Amen has a mural, dated around 1700 BCE, with panels showing the Annunciation (by Thoth), the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity, and the Adoration by three kneeling figures. -- That is the same "amen", incidentally, which Christians use at the end of every prayer.

    Consider briefly the well-known phrase, "by their fruits ye shall know them", [Matthew, chapter 7, verse 20]. In "Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church" [2006], Dr. David Ranan documents Vatican morality throughout its history: not just the scandals of recent decades of aiding and abetting paedophile priests around the globe, but inciting war and butchery -- the Crusades, in Europe, Latin America, etc.; oppressing and murdering Jews; torturing and burning "witches", "heretics", and "sodomites"; aiding and abetting Nazis, both during WW2 and for several years afterwards, helping them to escape justice; owning and trading slaves; subjugating women; opposing progress in science and technology, from Galileo's explanation of the solar system to current claims that condoms promote AIDS -- thereby condemning billions to sickness, poverty, and starvation.

    In "The Case of the Pope" [2010], renowned barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC details the legal arguments for prosecuting Joseph Ratzinger, a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI, for crimes against humanity: advice followed in February this year by lawyers in Germany.

    Send a Bible to every school? Only if, in the interests of EDUCATION, it's to be used in teaching the folly of blind faith and religious dogma. But if it's intended for INDOCTRINATION: as institutionalised child abuse, that has NO place in any ethical society.

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    1 December, 2011


  • RevDrJohnHunt,

    What an excellent well thought out post...........Well said.

    There is more evidence for the existance of Robin Hood than for a man called jesus.

    There is exactly the same evidence for the existance of a man called jesus as there is for a man called Santa Claus, the tooth fairey & the Easter Bunny.

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    1 December, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • Dear RevDrJohnHunt (I assume that the 'Rev' bit is ironic....?')

    Your are clearly very well read in speculative, revisionist nonsense, such as Bart Ehrman writes. I'm afraid that your regurgitation of such things doesn't substantiate Brooke Bond's commendation that your post is excellent and well thought out.

    I was wondering where to begin refuting your recycled assertions. If I was to show you just one error, would you perhaps take it to heart and reconsider whether the rest of your house of cards really stands up?

    You wrote: "As the epistles and "Revelations" contain NO mention of the Jesus stories related in the gospels or "Acts" --including virgin birth, miracles, crucifiction, and resurrection."

    Here are just a few passages from the epistles & Revelation that show your assertion to be untrue. Please read (do actually read these - if you are interested in establishing the truth of the matter):
    > Romans 1v3, Galatians 4v4, Philippian 2v6-11, 1 Timothy 3v16, Hebrew 1v1-6, Hebrew 2v14-18, Revelation 12v1-5 (which all speak of Jesus as Son of God and of Mary - the theological point of the virgin birth).
    > 1 Corinthians 15v3-8 (which recounts Jesus' death, burial, resurrection and appearances)
    > 1 Corinthians 1v23, 'For we preach Christ crucified.'
    > Colossians 2v13-15 mentions the cross a couple of times.
    > 1 Peter 2v24, 'He himself [Christ] bore our sins in his body on the tree.'
    > Hebrews 13v20 on the resurrection.
    > 1 Timothy 5v18 quotes from Luke 10v7.
    > 1 Corinthians 11v23-25 where Paul quotes Jesus' words from the Last Supper.

    It's hard to know where to stop, as the NT epistles just overflow with references to the central gospel facts that you seem to think are absent. Please read the passages I've quoted, and think again.

    Paul Brunning

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    16 January, 2012


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