|Tax ID No.||36-2270051|
|Founded||July 1, 1899|
|Founder(s)||Samuel E. Hill
John H. Nicholson
William J. Knights
|Key people||Craig Warner (Executive Director)|
|Members||300,000+ Gideons and Auxiliary members (wives of Gideons)|
Gideons International is an evangelical Christian organization founded 1899 in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Gideons' primary activity is distributing copies of the Bible free of charge. This Bible distribution is a global enterprise taking place in over 196 countries and in over 93 languages, with the organization being particularly well known for the copies to be found in hotel and motel rooms. The organization takes its name from the Biblical figure Gideon, depicted in Judges 6.
The Gideons International has a strong international presence. Its members distribute Scriptures in many countries to people who cannot afford to purchase Scriptures on their own.
Gideons began distributing free Bibles, the endeavor for which they are chiefly known, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. Members of The Gideons International distributed over 84.6 million Gideon Scriptures in 2012. More than 1.8 billion Bibles and New Testaments have been distributed since 1908. On average, more than two copies of the Bible are distributed per second through Gideons International. It is anticipated that the two billionth Scripture will be placed in 2015. 
The headquarters of Gideons International is in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
The organization, an early American organization dedicated to Christian evangelism, was founded in 1899 at the YMCA in Janesville, Wisconsin by two traveling businessmen who met by chance when they shared a hotel room at the Central House Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin. Of the three members at the original meeting, two continued with the distribution of the Bibles.  Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Gideons began distributing free Bibles, the work it is chiefly known for, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana.
The organization describes its link to the story of Gideon:
- Gideon was a man who was willing to do exactly what God wanted him to do, regardless of his own judgment as to the plans or results. Humility, faith, and obedience were his great elements of character. This is the standard that The Gideons International is trying to establish in all its members, each man to be ready to do God's will at any time, at any place, and in any way that the Holy Spirit leads.
In addition to their well-known hotel room Bibles, members of The Gideons International also distribute Bibles to members of the military of various countries, to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, MPs and students. A typical Bible or New Testament from The Gideons International contains:
- a short preface;
- a pamphlet suggesting Bible verses that may be of assistance in various sorts of trouble;
- translations of John 3:16 into a variety of languages and scripts;
- the Bible text itself, without notes, references, or any other reference matter other than chapter and verse headings — this can either be the full Bible (typical of the copies placed in hotel rooms), or just the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs (typical of the copies handed out as gifts to individuals);
- a short description of the evangelical understanding of salvation, with biblical quotations, and a place for the reader to sign and date their confession of Jesus as their savior (this is especially common in the shorter editions the New Testament and Psalms).
The Gideons have come in for criticism from some Catholics. In 1922 the Philadelphia Catholic Standard & Times ran an article containing quotes from The Gideon which showed, in their opinion, that while the group was not "aggressively anti-Catholic", through ignorance or prejudice passed on the myth that Catholics were not allowed to read the Bible. Further, the Bibles distributed by the Gideons contained mistranslations and excluded some books that were in the Catholic canon. "The Gideon Bible, therefore...is not in any sense the written word of God for Catholics; why then should it be foisted on them and the general reading public."
Colors of Testaments distributed
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2011)|
The covers of the New Testaments distributed by Gideons are color-coded based on which groups they're meant for:
- Orange: for sidewalk distribution to middle/high school students
- Green: for college/university students
- Red: for in-school distribution to Middle/High school students
- Digital Camouflage/Desert Camouflage: for the military
- Dark blue: for law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and EMTs
- White: for medical professionals
- Light blue: for distribution by the Auxiliary only
- Brown: personal worker's testaments (for individual witnessing by Gideons)
- Periwinkle: personal worker's testaments (for individual witnessing by the Auxiliary)
Note: During World War II there were Military Issued New Testaments, brown for Army and blue for Navy distributed by the Gideons. In addition to the Desert Camouflage and the Digital Camouflage, there are also Woodland Camouflage editions for the Military.
The Gideons International draws its volunteer members from many Christian denominations. Membership is limited to current or retired businessmen and professional men age 21 and older who are members in good standing of an evangelical or Protestant church, congregation or assembly. Wives of Gideons may join the Gideons International Auxiliary.
Distribution of Bibles during school hours
The distribution of Bibles on school grounds has been an issue because of the U.S. Constitutional separation of church and state. Five Supreme Court cases discuss this issue: Everson, McCollum, Zorach, Engel, and Schempp.
More recently, Americans United for Separation of Church and State brought suit against the South Iron R-1 School District in Missouri for allowing the Gideons to distribute Bibles during class time. In 2009, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld a lower court ruling that found the South Iron district's distribution of Bibles to the schoolchildren in their classrooms was unconstitutional. 
The Gideons International continues to contact youth in America through The Life Book, coordinating with churches and their youth to distribute copies of the Bible in high schools.
The tradition of Gideons handing out small New Testaments continues in many British secondary schools. While there has been no legal action, some schools have banned Gideons.
- Cornerstone of Religious Freedom in America
- "Our History". Gideons International. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Christianity in the News". Workersforjesus.com. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
- Fortnightly Review Vol. XXIX #14 July 15, 1922 p.267;
- The information in this note is based on New Testaments currently in my collection of US Military Bibles. This note provided by Douglas L. Canell Militaria and Collectables.
- Gideons International. Frequently Asked Questions
- The five cases are Everson v. Board of Education Ewing Township, 330 U.S. 1 (1947); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education 330 U.S. 203 (1948); Zorach v. Clauson 343 U.S. 306 (1952); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); and Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963). Kevin M. Schultz, "Favoritism Cannot Be Tolerated": Challenging Protestantism in America's Public Schools and Promoting the Neutral State", American Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 3, (Sep 2007), pp. 565-591.
- "Missouri Public School Must Stop Distribution of Bibles To Fifth-Graders, AU Tells Court". Retrieved on September 5, 2008.
- Jim Salter (July 17, 2009). "State News: Injunction upheld in Iron County Bibles case; both sides claim victory". Southeast Missourian (seMissourian.com). The Associated Press. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
- Beth Patch, "No High School Student Left Behind - 'The Life Book' Movement", Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
- "Anger as schools ban Gideon Bibles to avoid upsetting other faiths". Dailymail.co.uk. March 31, 2011. Retrieved November 10, 2011.