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-   -   Crates of bibles sent to New Orleans after Katrina (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=16823)

Skeptic 24 September 2007 01:18 PM

Crates of bibles sent to New Orleans after Katrina
 
I mentioned this in passing on the old boards, but no-one followed up on it. Is it true that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, GW Bush arranged for (or at least referred to) "crates of bibles" being sent into the disaster area.
I can't find any original quote online, but there are some references to people talking about it and claiming that it took up valuable space needed for emergency supplies.

KathyB 24 September 2007 02:03 PM

The phrase "crates of bibles" seems to have come from a New York Times Local Officials Criticize Federal Government Over Response. New Orleans refugees who were evacuated to Houston found problems at the Astrodome but at least "in Houston, there were hot showers, crates of Bibles and stacks of pizzas, while in New Orleans, many refugees scrounged for diapers, water and basic survival." (emphasis added)

The bibles themselves appear to have come from an number of sources: Three Adventist Book Centers/ 8,000 Bibles Distributed to Huricane Katrina Evacuees

Thomas Nelson, publishers of religious books. Thomas Nelson’s Disaster Relief Efforts "First, we will donate 100,000 Bibles to the relief efforts. Why Bibles? This afternoon, an official in Baton Rouge said on Fox News, “We need water, food, ... and Bibles.” This is something I knew we could help with. "

World Bible Translation Centre sent "a shipment of 100,000 Bibles to survivors of Hurricane Katrina in a bid to aid their spiritual recovery, reports Mission Network News...[Gary Bishop of the WBTC] said that on evacuating the New Orleans Superdome people asked first for food and water, but then for Bibles. He said this was a sign that people were starting to grasp the scale of the loss and were now seeking the answers."

The American Bible Society "Thanks to the generous support from friendslike you, over 1.5 million Bibles, Children's Bibles, New Testaments and Scripture Portions were shared with hurting souls from New Orleans to Houston to Dallas to Atlanta and all points in between."

With a bit of hunting, you can find a number of religious groups that collected Bibles and/or donations to provide Bibles to Katrina victims.

ETA: The connection between Bibles & the Bush administration seems to have come from the fact that FEMA produced a list of charities to which people could donate to help Katrina victims. Most of the charities were "faith based." One of those charities listed was OPeration Blessing, associated with evangelist Pat Robertson. There are comments out there about how that will probably result in bibles being given to victims instead of more practical aid.

callee 24 September 2007 06:00 PM

first of all, KathyB, wow, what an excellent response!

Second, I think I would have doubted the accusation prima facia even before reading KathyB's excellent response, simply because 1) it seems too well tailored to slandering bush, i.e. for the many people who hate bush the maxim "if it's too good to be true it probably isn't" would apply to this, and 2) I don't believe bush actually takes faith seriously enough to do such a thing. I've come to the conclusion that his faith is primarily just a show to win religious right votes.

Third, on the surface I don't see what is so bad about the bible donatiosn that did happen. Wycliffe Bible, Nelson publishers, etc., these are people that only produce bibles (and other religious books) so what the heck else could they donate (besides the obvious sending of raw money, but in regards to goods, what else could they send?) I'm not going to fault someone for doing the thing that they can do, especialy when the intent is to help. And for that matter, as a Christian myself, I can see the potential value. People do need material recovery - food, water, shelter - but they do also need spiritual comfort, and religion has a history of providing that.

Elkhound 24 September 2007 06:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KathyB (Post 335008)
There are comments out there about how that will probably result in bibles being given to victims instead of more practical aid.

"Instead of" or "In addition to."?

There are other needs that people who have been through such traumatic events have besides the physical; spiritual needs are important too.

Canuckistan 24 September 2007 06:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Elkhound (Post 335470)
"Instead of" or "In addition to."?

Instead of. Definitely instead of.

In times of disaster, it's much more important to get people food, water and shelter compared with a book the vast majority of them have already heard of. To me, this kind of mass Bible delivery smacks of misguided priorities at best, and slacktivism at worst.

diddy 24 September 2007 07:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Elkhound (Post 335470)
"Instead of" or "In addition to."?

There are other needs that people who have been through such traumatic events have besides the physical; spiritual needs are important too.

But do we know the spiritual preferences of all the homeless from Katrina? I would think sending hundreds of thousands of bibles would smack come as being an attempt to convert the masses.

callee 24 September 2007 07:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Canuckistan (Post 335496)
Instead of. Definitely instead of.

In times of disaster, it's much more important to get people food, water and shelter compared with a book the vast majority of them have already heard of. To me, this kind of mass Bible delivery smacks of misguided priorities at best, and slacktivism at worst.

Perhaps if it was some organization doing it that could easily do something else. But for bible publishers like thomas nelson? I completely disagree with you. The bottom line is that there were many people in N.O. after katrina who wanted a bible. (Even though, you are surely right, most had already heard of it, as is customary religious practice they would want to have it and actually read it again, and their own copy was likely destroyed with all their other belongings). So if there are katrina victims wanting bibles, and you are a bible publisher, you really have two choices: you can give them bibles for free, or you can sell bibles to them. Companies like Nelson chose the former, and I don't see how anyone could reasonably accuse them of making the wrong choice on that one.

Elkhound 24 September 2007 08:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by diddy (Post 335564)
But do we know the spiritual preferences of all the homeless from Katrina? I would think sending hundreds of thousands of bibles would smack come as being an attempt to convert the masses.

Considering that Louisiana is right in the middle of the Bible Belt. . . . .

Canuckistan 24 September 2007 08:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by callee (Post 335569)
So if there are katrina victims wanting bibles, and you are a bible publisher, you really have two choices: you can give them bibles for free, or you can sell bibles to them.

Or, Choice 3: in a humanitarian gesture, put aside some of your profits for relief efforts. Why must Bibles play a role in any of this, considering food, water and shelter would be much more useful in a disaster-ravaged area?

woodness03 24 September 2007 08:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Canuckistan (Post 335710)
Or, Choice 3: in a humanitarian gesture, put aside some of your profits for relief efforts. Why must Bibles play a role in any of this, considering food, water and shelter would be much more useful in a disaster-ravaged area?

But if bibles were being requested, why shouldn't they give bibles?


I am conflicted though. Even though bibles were requested, I think other materials were of more importance. If I was in charge of the company, I would have used some of my profits to buy raw materials (food, water, pay for rent). I would have not just sent money as I feel that it would not have been used properly by the governing agencies.

Just what I would have done, but then again; if people were requested bibles, a great company to fulfill that request is a bible making company.

Canuckistan 24 September 2007 08:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by woodness03 (Post 335728)
But if bibles were being requested, why shouldn't they give bibles?

If video games were requested, should they be given out, too?

kismet 24 September 2007 08:59 PM

From the time I've spent in the New Orleans area before Katrina, I'd say that there's a pretty noticable Christian population there. Many Christians see reading the Bible as a calming activity in times of life stress. Losing everything, including your bible and your home ans possibly even your family, is pretty stressful.

There were people who desperately wanted a Bible to read, and did not have one. There were companies who had Bibles readily available to donate. They donated those bibles to the people who wanted them. The people in the Astrodome ALSO got food, medical attention, toiletries, clothing, and other assistance. Nobody was forced to take a Bible if they didn't want one. But the people with Bibles donated Bibles. Grocery stores and restaurants donated food. How is this bad?

ETA: I was in Houston for Katrina. At the Astrodome, they were turning away some donations. For a couple of reasons. 1. They had enough of some things and didn't need more. 2. Smaller donations require more sorting and take more volunteers and space than may be available. Big companies were providing plenty of food in managable ways. Getting supplies to New Orleans was challenging in those first days, because there was NO infrastructure. But if a company had Bibles or video games to comfort those stranded in the Astrodome, that is a real way they could help right away and be sure it would actually help real people.

woodness03 24 September 2007 09:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Canuckistan (Post 335739)
If video games were requested, should they be given out, too?

It is one of the reasons why I am conflicted. But IMO, there is a difference between bibles and video games; but then again, where is the line drawn.

Probably should have kept my mouth shut as I am just talking in circles now

Canuckistan 24 September 2007 09:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kismet (Post 335741)
How is this bad?

It isn't. I just don't think it's particularly useful.

I like good political books. Does that mean if requested, I should have received them, especially when homes were still in ruin? It seems to me to be misplaced priorities.

Beachlife! 24 September 2007 09:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Canuckistan (Post 335739)
If video games were requested, should they be given out, too?

Certainly, if someone wishes to donate them. Why not?

Canuckistan 24 September 2007 09:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by woodness03 (Post 335746)
It is one of the reasons why I am conflicted. But IMO, there is a difference between bibles and video games; but then again, where is the line drawn.

Wish I had the answer for that.

Quote:

Probably should have kept my mouth shut as I am just talking in circles now
I probably should have kept my mouth shut, too. Shall we go for a drink instead? ;)

Canuckistan 24 September 2007 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beachlife! (Post 335751)
Certainly, if someone wishes to donate them. Why not?

Again, misplaced priorities.

woodness03 24 September 2007 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Canuckistan (Post 335752)
I probably should have kept my mouth shut, too. Shall we go for a drink instead? ;)

mmm...beer....

Sounds good to me :D

AnglRdr 24 September 2007 09:05 PM

I don't see what the big deal is with sending Bibles.

After, of course, food, water, and shelter were provided. Thomas Nelson could have, say, sent a day's worth of profit, rather than Bibles (which were probably remainders, anyway, considering how many they publish each year).

AnglRdr 24 September 2007 09:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beachlife! (Post 335751)
Certainly, if someone wishes to donate them. Why not?

I worked at a shelter for Katrina/Rita evacuees. There was a whole lot of crap that people wanted to donate that couldn't be used.

And then there were the cell phones/plans that a large cell phone company wanted to donate. Which was turned down by the shelter manager. She was a moron.


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