They stand at schools, usually in suits, and hand out small pocket Bibles to students, often in several languages – don’t they have a job? Yes, they do, that’s the gag of it. Presumably, they are some members of the Gideons. Who the Gideons are and whether they are dangerous, you could read in this article.
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Who are the Gideons?
The Gideons are a covenant of men who are in business and want to spread the news of Jesus Christ. They do this by taking the Bible to many places a Kaufmman would visit. There is everything from oil rigs to hotels.
The Gideons are famous for being able to supply almost any hotel with free Bibles – next time you are in a hotel, check the nightstand. If there is a Bible there with an amphora on it, that Bible came from the Gideons and was given to the hotel specifically to give away.
By the way, it is not a problem if this Bible “accidentally” disappears from the hotel room. Most hoteliers and hotel chains have at least one telephone number to call for a copy.
This association has been around for 100 years and, thanks to its fidelity to its own bylaws, has been able to make a solid name for itself. And yes: it is an association of men; women can only become members if the man is a member.
But that doesn’t stop the women from distributing Bibles in “women’s typical” domains: Homes for the elderly, hospitals, etc. The unifying factor of the Gideons is a transmission of the Gospel through the transmission of the Bible.
The Gideons do not consider themselves a denomination, but require that each member be active in a congregation or at least a member. Explicitly excluded from the membership of the Gideons are, by the way, Catholics;- the Gideons see themselves as evangelical.
Thus one meets many different faith attitudes within the Gideons: From charismatic, to traditional.
What do the Gideons distribute?
The Gideons distribute the Bible and the New Testament. In doing so, they do not rely on a specific translation that is declared to be absolutely correct, but on availability. However, in cooperation with certain publishers, the Gideon Federation manages to distribute certain translations that are not otherwise intended as distribution Bibles.
In German-speaking countries, the Luther Bible is often used as a basis for distributing a linguistically revised version. Care is taken to ensure that no special agenda is included in the translation (as is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example), although critical passages are then translated in a more evangelical style.
Are the Gideons a dangerous sect or cult?
As already described, the Gideons are united by one thing: faith in Jesus Christ and his teachings. Even if the teachings differ in detail (some place more emphasis on the Holy Spirit, others more on the text of the Bible), they remain one in essence: conservative Christians.
This, of course, can create tension between the liberal world and the conservative world. Likewise between atheists and believers. As a rule, this connection is not considered dangerous. The “worst” thing that can be found in the rules about some members is that they do not comply with certain rules of order.
However, this is actually the exception rather than the rule. For practical reasons alone, Gideons are very careful about their appearance:
- a) a bad appearance could harm the Lord Jesus Christ (after all, the Gideons are a bit of traveling salesmen of Jesus)
- b) they are men who are in the middle of their careers and often have a family
- c) or they are pensioners who have been standing up for Jesus for decades and know “what is proper”.
In this respect, the individual persons are not to be classified as dangerous.
The Gideons are also not a cult in the classical sense: of course, they meet regularly to pray together (as many Christian associations do), but they have – as already described – no deep common agenda, except for distributing Bibles. Therefore, the aspect of the usual cohesion of a sect or cult is missing.
Summary Are The Gideons A Cult?
Are the Gideons Germany now a sect? No. The members of this association are united by a certain code of values, which is considered to be Christian conservative. An important aspect of this “code” is the teaching of charity towards all people.
Members are usually adult men who have no desire to cause a ruckus. They announce all public distribution actions and usually adhere to corresponding agreements and are available as speakers.
Of course, they stand for a certain denomination or belief. However, this does not make them more dangerous than other groups with a fixed “belief system”.