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Surrey Police responds to secularist backlash over accepting free Bibles from Gideons International
Surrey Police has been forced to defend a decision to accept a gift of one thousand Bibles for its workers, following criticism from secularists.
The National Secular Society (NSS) said accepting the donation from Gideons International last month gave a "strong impression of religious favouritism".
In response, a force spokesman told Premier: "It is important to us that all officers and staff feel supported irrespective of their faith/belief or none.
"We have a multi-faith Chaplaincy which has approximately 20 committed volunteers, the chaplaincy offers a service to all staff and officers offering emotional and spiritual support.
"Policing is a challenging and complex environment and it is vital that staff and officers feel supported at work to serve the public."
The Bibles were awarded to the Surrey Christian Police Association during a service attended by the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Munro on April 24th.
Chief executive officer of the NSS, Stephen Evans said it was "disappointing to see Surrey Police allowing itself to be used in this way".
"As public service providers, police forces should serve with impartiality and without fear or favour.
PCC @DavidJMunro was y/day presented with one of a 1,000 bibles now available to @SurreyPolice officers & staff thanks to the Force's Christian Police Association & @thegideons pic.twitter.com/K60idDPxj9— Surrey PCC (@SurreyPCC) April 25, 2018
"Distributing badged bibles and brandishing them in publicity shots gives a strong impression of religious favouritism."
A spokesman for the Surrey PCC told Premier the multi-faith chaplaincy team include Christians, Jews, Muslims and Humanists.
Referring to the ceremony on April 24th, they added: "A crucial part of the PCC role is to represent all those who live and work in Surrey and to help build links with the communities in the county.
"To achieve this, the Commissioner regularly meets people from a varied range of backgrounds.
"In the last year, he had over 150 different meetings, events or visits with organisations, charities and individuals such as youth groups, residents associations, minority groups and faith leaders."
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