Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Copy of King James Bible to be sent to all English schools

Education secretary will write a brief foreword in special edition marking 400th anniversary of its publication

Michael Gove, the education secretary, is to send a 400th anniversary edition of the King James Bible to every school in England. Photograph: Sang Tan/AP
Every state school in England is to receive a new copy of the King James Bible from the government – with a brief foreword by Michael Gove, the education secretary, to mark the 400th anniversary of its translation. In a move intended to help every pupil access Britain's cultural heritage, every primary and secondary school will be sent a new copy of the 1611 translation by next Easter.
The initiative has been criticised by secular campaigners as a waste of money. The National Secular Society said that schools were already "awash with Bibles". It urged Gove to send out a copy of Darwin's On the Origin of Species instead.
Gove, who is proposing to write a two-line introduction for the bibles sent to schools, said of the 1611 translation: "It's a thing of beauty, and it's also an incredibly important historical artefact. 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."
The National Secular Society said that Darwin's writing is "much harder to find in schools", while evangelical groups are keen to donate bibles.
The Department for Education estimates the cost of the scheme at £375,000, and is seeking philanthropic sponsorship. A spokesman said: "As many people have noted – from former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion to the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor – the King James Bible continues to shape our culture. Understanding the story of its publication and the impact it has had on today's English-speaking society is an important part of the teaching and learning of history and language."
Full story at The Guardian.

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