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Bad language

James Cary


Despite claims of cost cutting, and howls of protest, governments always find ingenuous ways of flushing money down the drain. One recent wheeze is the installation of a King James Bible in every school - at a reported cost of £375,000. The figure in question is a curiously high one, given that a copy of the KJV costs £5.39 on Amazon. So, unless there are over 69,500 schools, it is hard to understand where all this money is going.

It is worth pointing out that the King James Version could be printed for less given the text has passed out of copyright; or viewed by almost all school children already on their smartphones free of charge; and that one copy per school isn't really enough to do anything with. Classes tend not to huddle reverentially round solitary books like it was a sneak preview of the latest Lady Gaga video.

The claim is that a 'benefactor' will be found to cover the cost of this already flawed scheme. They won't. Even if the Gideons (who already give Bibles to schools) stumped up, there would be fury from the usual suspects at the National Secular Society or The British Humanist Association. They have already demanded that the government also dish out free copies of Darwin's Origin of Species - as if that is any kind of secular equivalent.

Besides, the humanists are missing the point of the exercise. KJVs are being doled out not because they are the inspired word of God. But because of the language. The education secretary has said the King James Version is 'a thing of beauty, … [and] one of the keystones of our shared culture… Some people look at certain battles, or some look at certain parliamentary acts, as hinge moments in history… I actually think the translation of the Bible into the vernacular is a critical moment in the life of the nation.' Except, of course, an English Bible had been placed in every church in England in the 1530s, 70 years before the KJV. But let's not get bogged down in dates.

The fact that a special Bible is being produced for schools is so that Michael Gove can write a Foreword in it. Not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Not even Cliff Richard or Dot Cotton, but Michael Gove. What on earth will he write? Here is a sneak preview of a draft that your columnist has obtained from the Education Secretary's office:

'Hi kids. [Kidz? Stephanie, can you check which is correct.] Here's a book. It's a bit of a biggie :-( Soz. But have a squizz at it. Serious. Reckon you might like it. It's about God. Or a god. Let's not get too specific. There's this guy who says he's the only way to God.  I shouldn't worry about that. I'm not dissing him but he's probably bigging himself up. There's some miracles too. Water into wine.

Dead raised to life. There's a talking donkey in one place. Wicked! [Do the youth still say this, Stephanie? Pls check] There's a bit about how all the stuff like everywhere was made in the first place? The science guys will freak at this, but don't worry. I'll ping over a free copy of Origin of Species to calm them down. And there's some stuff in this town called Sodom (stop giggling). Also, ignore that - hey, soon they'll be able to get properly married! Remember it was the Tories who did that. Progressive.

Overall, I guess what I'm saying is, you know, whatevs. Don't take this book too literally. There are lots of dos and don'ts but hey, we've all done them, or joined political parties with people who have. Or claimed them on expenses. Or not. Whatevs. Just chill. All I is saying is that we don't want another William Wilberforce on our hands who'll pester parliament for years and years into doing something because it's 'the right thing to do'. I mean, who's to say what's right, you get me? We is all a bit busy for that, and to be honest, life's a bit complicated to be saying stuff like 'slavery is always wrong' or whatever.

So, that's it. Read it. Because it's well pretty lingo. And you might learn how to write nice like I did when I worked for newspapers and that. Anyway. I'm done. The Bible. Word.  [That's probably enough. Hey, I managed to dictate this whole introduction without once mentioning Jesus. Oh, damn. Stephanie, can you delete this last bit please? Ta. MG.]'

James Cary