What do Catholics think of the Gideons?

I know a Catholic lady whose Dad passed away a couple of weeks ago. This lady was raised Baptist and became Catholic after she married a Catholic man. Her Dad was a long time Baptist preacher that served over 40 years in the ministry. He had a Baptist funeral.

Anyway, instead of flowers (as he was in a different state than us) we made a donation to the Gideons to purchase Bibles in his honor.

For those of you who don’t know who the Gideons are… they are an international organization dedicated to getting the Bible into as many peoples hands as possible. They are the ones who put Bibles in hotel rooms and doctors offices. They also give people in the armed forces a pocket New Testament and, when possible, give school children and High School graduates pocket New Testaments.

We chose the Gideons because he was a Baptist preacher and would have supported the Gideons efforts as part of his ministry. However, after thinking about it we are worried we offended his daughter and son in law as we don’t know the Catholic stance on organizations like the Gideons.


Generally, we only use Bibles approved by the Catholic Church. These Bibles have a ‘nihil obstat’ (nothing stands in the way) or an ‘imprimatur’ (let it be printed), or both. They used to be able to be given by bishops, but now are usually given by Episcopal Conferences. For a Catholic to use and read a Bible, it has to have approval from the Church.

Catholic Bibles with this approval contain seven books that Protestants do not regard as scripture but which us Catholics do.They are:

  • Sirach.

  • Baruch.

  • Judith.

  • Tobias.

  • 1 Maccabees.

  • 2 Maccabees.

  • Wisdom.

Catholics should not read a Bible unless it has these books. For a Catholic to read a Bible it needs to have these 7 books and it needs approval from the Catholic Church.


I can’t imagine what any possible Catholic objection might be. If somebody complained that they use Protestant Bibles missing seven books, the answer is better a Protestant Bible than no Bible at all.


To be sure, Catholics may read Protestant Bibles, ( as in there is no penalty of sin attached to doing so), but we must be aware that they may not be correctly translated and are missing the aforementioned Books.


If I recall correctly, the “missing” books are only from the Old Testament, and the Gideons Bible contains only the New Testament, so the missing books is a non-issue here.

Your donation was thoughtful and appropriate. Do not worry.

Was the donation to the Gideons suggested in the obituary or funeral announcement? If so, any reasonable Catholic would be happy that you donated.


Anecdotally speaking, most of the Gideon Bibles I’ve seen in hotel rooms were 66 book Bibles. The NT + Psalms pocket Bibles are usually made available at schools and the like.

Thank you. I stand corrected.

Still, better 66 books in any translation than none.

@lanman87, to answer the question in your title, I think the Gideons are doing a great and much-needed service, by which they are showing their love for God and neighbor.


The Gideons are doing a good thing, even if we would prefer they promulgate the Catholic Bible. If someone in a hotel room suddenly feels a need or an urge to read God’s Word, the Protestant version is better than nothing.

I draw the line at the LDS putting a Book of Mormon in every hotel room though. I wouldn’t support that as I do not believe the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired. I am lately often finding it in the hotel room along with the Gideon Bible. I’m sure it’s not the Gideons putting it there.


The Gideons have thousands of letters from people who tell them that they were in a crisis point in life and saw the Bible in a hotel room, doctors office, or even the battlefield and they pick it up and read it and God reached down and changed their lives. I remember one letter read to our church by a Gideon where a man was in a hotel room preparing to commit suicide when he picked up the Bible. He ended up on his knees crying out to God for forgiveness and help.


I wouldn’t say those books are important enough to say you can’t read a bible that doesn’t have them. It isn’t like every time I read the bible I am going to read one of those secondary books.

Yah and Catholic Bibles are missing some of the books the Orthodox accept. Maybe just put the NRSV w Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books and then we are all happy.

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As a Catholic, I would want to donate to City of Agape (the philanthropic arm of CityOf.com) instead. They provide free Catholic Bibles (Good News Translation - Catholic edition) to groups who ask for them.

Granted, this translation is not the best, but it is good enough for free.

The Bibles have Imprimatur from William Cardinal Keeler.

So far, they have given approx 500,000 Bibles out.


I read something a year or so ago that claimed that more and more hotels are not permitting the Gideons to place bibles in their rooms. Might not be true and I hope its not.

It says “For Catholics” on the cover but the deuterocanonicals are sandwiched in the middle after Malachi, instead of being placed in their canonical order.

I hope not. In my part of the South, you see Gideon Bibles at the mechanic when you’re waiting for your car. God Bless 'em


I have a confession to make - I still haven’t read the books that are in the catholic bible. And not in the Protestant one. Yes I realise I still call it that. Sola scriptural background. I am not ready to. I didn’t even know these books existed until a year or so ago and I have not met many Catholics who read their bibles whereas that’s a big deal for non Catholics. Help?

Kept my Gideon bible for years

The Bibles have the “Sinner’s Prayer” printed inside of them. Not exactly the best theology.

They give away those little New Testaments (King James Version, of course) at the local public schools and every year someone donates a handful of them to our Parish, we cannot use them.

Once I was running the Pro Life booth at the County Fair. The next booth was the Gideons and they were none too happy being next to the Catholics! Was kinda funny, like they thought we’d get Catholic kooties on them.



We do a “Read the New Testament During Lent” every year at our Parish.

There are so many great Catholic Bible Studies out there.

I’d suggest start with Macabees if you are more of a “story” person and Sirach if you are more of a “poetry” person.

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I respectively disagree. People who pick up a bible in a hotel will not be lead astray by the differences. In fact the hotel bibles may be the gateway to finding the truth in Jesus Christ and His church!
It is a prime example of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

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