Just ask Tim Tebow or Novak Djokovic. So why are there organisations like the Bible Society that can’t wait for the Olympic Games in London to start, so they can distribute Christian Bibles to athletes? There is even an “Olympic Village Religious Services Centre”, would you believe it. But these are by no means ordinary Bibles that are being distributed :
The Bible Society is readying thousands of copies of the Bible for distribution among athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Olympic Village Religious Services Centre will be handing out 3,000 copies of commemorative English-language Scriptures.
Another 1,000 copies of Bibles and New Testaments will be available in other languages through partnerships with national Bible Societies around the world.
David Willson, chief executive of More Than Gold, said: “At past Olympics and other major sports events I’ve seen athletes deeply grateful for the free gift of a Bible. Bible Society are to be highly commended for their support in making such gifts possible.”
There are two Bibles being distributed in the English language – The Sports Good News Bible and The Sports Good News Gospel of Luke.
Both contain specially commissioned articles written to help sportspeople consider the relationships between sport and faith.
What on earth is this, you may ask yourself. Well, check it out :
This special edition Bible uses the Good News translation, making it easily accessible to everyone. (With over 150 million copies sold worldwide, the Good News Bible is popular with churches, schools and individuals everywhere.)
As well as featuring line drawings by Swiss artist Annie Vallatton the Sport Bible also features an additional 40 full-colour pages which connect sport with faith through:
stories and reflections from a wide range of Christian ministries
Bible studies to take you deeper into the Bible
helpful resources to point you in the right direction.
I’m sure the pole vaulter from Iran will appreciate the easy-to-read text, and any Palestinian high jumper or Chinese marathon runner will love to study the line drawings by Annie Vallatton, while Japanese and Danish athletes may show some general trepidation in being taken “deeper into the Bible”, or to consider the relationship between sport and faith, while preparing for their competitions.
Just as Great Britain is not a Christian country, so are the Olympic Games not a Christian event. It is insulting to those athletes of different or no faith, that Christian books will be given out indiscriminately to participating sportspeople at the London Games.
There is however a signal of hope as well, one hotel owner is reported to be swapping Bibles for fiction novels:
Wayne Bartholomew, General Manager of Damson Dene Hotel, in Cumbria, says he got the idea to swap out copies of the holy book for the otherwise unholy one after a discussion with fans on Facebook.
James’s 2011novel is the first in an erotic trilogy that explores the sexual relationship involving bondage and sadism between college student Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, described as “a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control.” The series, wildly popular among many women, has sold more than 20 million copies and promises to “obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever”.
Maybe athletes should stay there.