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Robbed of access to truth

Published 10:33pm Friday, October 19, 2012

In a world filled with knowledge there is only one thing worse than illiteracy — possessing the ability to learn but being denied access to information.

Recently a school board in Grove, Okla., voted to prohibit Gideons from passing out Bibles to fifth-graders. The School Board says a parent complained and threatened to sue over the matter, so the board told the Gideons to stop.

Gideons International is ministry of Christian men in more than 190 countries. The Gideons distribute Bibles at the rate of more than 2.5 copies per second. If you’ve ever read a Bible from a hotel room, that was them.

I remember the little orange Bible that was given to this unchurched teenager as I walked home from a public middle school. My parents had not raised me in church. That Bible became a treasure to me. A topical guide in the back led me to find passages of wisdom and hope in a time in my young life when I had neither.

It is maddening to me to think that in the land of the free and the home of the brave one parental complaint can bring an end to the distribution of ancient wisdom to children.

The Gideons have never lobbied to stop the distribution of other literature, such as the dictionaries that are given to third-graders by the Rotary Club in the same school district, Islamic flyers that are handed out on the streets of Chicago, or any other of the countless political leaflets that are being distributed all over this country today.

Why such acrimony at the unobtrusive simple gift of the Bible?

As one who has stood watch over this nation’s freedoms, it is exasperating to look on as the resolve of society for the cause of freedom deteriorates. Have we become so like jellyfish that we now disallow freedom of speech to anyone solely on the basis of the objection of someone else? Our nation’s greatest strength lies in our ability to introduce Lady Wisdom to all who seek her.

If any parent does not want his or her child to have access to the Bible, then that parent may simply remove it from the child. Though to do so, as with not taking a child to church, teaches them not to go to church or to investigate the Bible.

Many parents say they will leave that decision up to their children when they mature, but what I don’t expose my children to is as much a part of their education as what I do expose them to. If I don’t take them to church, pray or study the Bible, it tells them that I don’t value those things. And if I don’t, why should they?

The masses should never be robbed of access to information in the search for truth. We are not a society of book burners. Our legacy is that of great men like John Adams, who wrote, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know.”

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