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Gay Police Association concern over Scottish forces’ badged Bibles offer

Stephen Gray April 23, 2012
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The Gay Police Association in Scotland and UNISON have expressed concern over an offer to the police forces of Scotland of free Bibles branded with each one’s badge, saying they should not ‘endorse a book containing text which condemns homosexuality’.

Ahead of an amalgamation of the police forces of Scotland, Gideons International has offered commemorative editions of the New Testament and Psalms to the Scottish forces for them to offer to their employees.

The GPA said forces should not endorse the text themselves but direct Gideons to the Christian Police Association or allow them to distribute the Bibles themselves.

Gideons International, which had been distributing free Bibles for over a hundred years, wrote to the eight forces’ Chief Constables offering the texts in dark blue, the colour it prints for police officers and other emergency services.

They wrote: “In light of the current situation with regards to the future amalgamation of the eight independent police forces in Scotland, we want to make the following offer: that as a memento, but more importantly as a valuable guide to life, we wish to make available a dark blue slimline New Testament and Psalms, duly badged, for each force wishing to accept them.

“These can be offered to all members of the individual force, both serving police officers and civilian staff.” understands that of the eight forces asked, several including Strathclyde Police, Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and the Central Scotland Police Force have so far declined the offer to accept the Bibles themselves.

Grampian Police confirmed it has accepted the badged Bible offer.

The Gay Police Association said last week: “Members of the GPA have contacted us expressing concern that their Force is officially endorsing a religious book containing text which condemns homosexuality.

“The GPA, whilst respecting religious beliefs, cannot ignore the concerns raised by its members.

“The GPA does not feel that a public service, such as the police, should be seen to be endorsing, by their active involvement, any particular religion over and above any other religion or non-religion.

“The police must be seen to be representative of all peoples including their cultures, faiths and identities. If Gideon or, for example, the Christian Police Association wish to extend this offer to police officers and staff, then surely this can be done without the actual involvement of the police force concerned.”

Gideons International did not respond to a request for comment last week.

A Grampian Police spokesman told “Grampian Police has accepted the offer of free Gideon New Testaments for police officers and staff.

“The commemorative Testaments were offered at no cost to the force and will only be issued to staff who request them.

“No offers have been received in relation to other scriptures or narratives from other faith or non faith groups and if they were, they would be considered in a similar manner.”

Supporting forces who had declined the offer of badged Bibles, a UNISON spokesperson said: “It is not the role of a Police Force either to provide official endorsement of any religion or foist religious views on its staff.

“Police forces exist to serve people of all religions and none. As employers they should be aware that their staff are drawn from people of all religious outlooks and none.

“We are pleased that the majority of Scotland’s police forces take their role as employers and impartial servants of the public seriously enough to reject this offer. We hope that the remainder will do likewise.”

More: Bible, Christianity, Employment, police, public sector employer, Scotland

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