Women, unemployed not eligible to join Christian group

By Amy Levin

On Wednesday, September 12, Gideons paid their annual visit to DeKalb, handing out Bibles on every corner along the margins of campus. Their presence was no doubt welcome to many students and employees but, as a community, we should be aware of the nature of the Gideons organization. Consider this statement on The Gideons International web page:

Who is eligible to join the Gideons?

“Generally, Christian businessmen and professional men age 21 and older (or retired businessmen and professional men) who adhere to the core spiritual beliefs held by Gideons are eligible to join The Gideons International.”

In other words, neither women nor the unemployed are eligible to join this Christian group. As one of the men giving out Bibles was quick to point out, the organization has a women’s auxiliary, but it remains segregated from the main association.

For some students and employees, the annual visit by the Gideons creates a cordon of privilege and discrimination around a university that strives to be egalitarian.

Amy Levin

Professor in the English Department