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Gideons International
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Gideons UK lose trademark battle and have to change name

by Cara Bentley

The charity which donates Bibles to hotel rooms and school pupils will have to change their name and the logo on the covers. 

The organisation started in America in 1899 but has a UK branch.

In 2018, the UK branch accepted women after the Charity Commission asked whether or not it was complying with the Equality Act 2010 and then suggested women should be allowed to join for them to remain compliant.

In July 2018, the International Cabinet at TGI refused to accept financial support from Gideons UK for worldwide ministry and removed its 'National Association' status because it was decided the UK association did not accept the 'Core Values'.

The UK branch also changed its logo online to an open Bible in July. 

In a letter to Gideon members in September this year, president Andrew Knight said the UK branch decided it would be better to submit to this decision rather than to challenge the Charity Commission.

In a letter to members, President of Gideons UK Andrew Knight and Executive Director Iain Mair said: "We did not expect to receive the results of the Trademark Hearing until much nearer the end of this year; however, last week we were notified of the decision of the Hearing Officer, which is in favour of The Gideons International i.e. our application to register Gideons UK has been refused."

They add that they take this as "God's will" for the organisation.

Because a change in emblem will be necessary, it recommends keeping stocks of Bibles low and not ordering in more.

"Together, we must make every effort to avoid a situation where we might have to pulp and pay for Scriptures we are unable to use due to the Trademark ruling."

Gideons UK member Eddie Martin told Premier: "I'm ambivalent in one sense because the Gideons have got a history and a good reputation. But they have become a little bit out of touch with reality, out of touch with the social media side of communications and they're perceived as being an old men's club and really that's not what we want to be, so I am really quite excited about the fact that Gideons are going to get a really fresh start. Things are going to get exciting and we will be able to move forward.

"Yes, there will be some people who have been Gideons for many years, who will be very sad to lose the name but that's not the main point. The main point is that we want to get the Word of God where we can get it out and if a different name helps that then that's good not bad. So I'm not too worried about that."

Speaking about his hopes for the charity's future, Mr Martin said: "I think it will make us more acceptable because we have had a reputation of being sexist and we don't want that. I think it's a springboard which'll lead us into real exciting times in the future. "

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