Christian group hands out Bibles on campus

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Christian group hands out Bibles on campus

Jordyn Toscano, Staff writer

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The First Amendment of the United States allows citizens the ability to explore any religious or non-religious beliefs they may have. Taking the First Amendment as an opportunity to spread awareness of their beliefs, Gideons International Bible Association has distributed Bibles specific to the Christian faith throughout middle schools, high schools and colleges in the Bay Area for more than 50 years.

Continuing this tradition, Gideon’s representatives distributed their Bibles on campus at Los Medanos throughout the first week of the new semester.

“I’ve been at LMC for 32 years now. The men [from Gideons] have been here for as long as I can remember, always during the first week of school,” said Office of Instruction Supervisor Eileen Valenzuela.

Despite their constant presence at LMC for the past three decades, some students still find it unnerving that an outside organization is allowed to distribute their own materials on campus— especially religious organizations.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s okay to pass the bibles out because there are different types of people and different religions here,” said student Griselda Magallenes.

Contrary to popular belief, it is easy to obtain permission from the Student Activities Center to distribute or table items on campus. While Gideons are a Christian Association, other religions have the opportunity to allocate their resources on campus if they apply through the Student Activities Center and fill out the necessary forms.

“If there’s another religion out there that wants to be represented here, I would say go for it. It’s totally okay with me, I mean Jehovah’s witness is here almost every week too,” said student Justin Rocha.

“The distribution of Christian texts on campus does not only affect students and their individual religious beliefs, but their education as well.” Student Alyssa Sanchez continued, “While the men passing out the Bibles were nice, they interfered with her focus on education at LMC.”

“Many students get caught up thinking that they have to take the Bible and they have to read it. I think that students should be able to go to school and learn, not walk on campus and be handed a Bible … especially if that’s not the religion you’re practicing,” said Sanchez.

Gideons are a men’s organization that works to share the “hope of gospel” internationally by participating in business ventures, distributing materials at schools and prisons, and gathering personal testimonies.

A man working with the Gideons, who requested to remain anonymous, explained that he has been handing out Bibles for 10 years and relies completely on himself to raise the funds necessary to distribute them. 

“We are all self-sufficient individuals – we use our own money to hand out Bibles for free. Some people that walk by us are very inquisitive and ask questions, and want to learn. Others are not as interested and that’s okay too,” said another Gideon associate.

Despite the differing opinions regarding the place of religion on campus, student Ryan Brown said that the distribution of  religious materials on campus is okay.

“It’s not hurting anyone. If anything, it’s just benefiting them [Gideons]. It’s not contradicting other religions either, they just offer you a book and you can take it or not. I think it’s okay,” said Brown.

While the Gideons Bible Association continues to offer their Bible during the beginning of each school year, we also see Jehovah’s Witness tabling on campus every week and students promoting their own religious ideologies on a daily basis throughout campus.

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