Ruffley: Harry Potter or the King James Bible in Suffolk schools?

Tuesday, 23 November, 2010

On Tuesday 23rd November, Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley attended HRH Duke of Edinburgh's reception at the Banqueting House, Whitehall to celebrate the launch of the King James Bible Trust, a charity set up to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible's publication in 1611.

David said: 'The Trust celebrates the cultural importance of the King James Bible, its contribution to the English language across the world, and the role of Christian values in civil society. I am amazed that a Trust poll this month found that 51% of British under-35s and 28% of over-55s have never heard of the King James Bible.

This is shocking. The King James Bible is the greatest transmitter of English cultural values after Shakespeare. And it is not just some dusty old text but the source of our everyday language and expressions - 'salt of the earth', 'from the cradle to the grave', 'skin of the teeth', 'the writing on the wall'. It contains stories that underpin all of European culture and particularly English literature, art and music.

I think that, as a nation, if you don't know your past then you don't know your present or your future. That is why I am writing to all schools in my Bury St Edmunds constituency to conduct my own poll of how widespread the use of the King James Bible is. How many schools use the King James Bible regularly? How many teach it in lessons? I do not believe that the young people of Suffolk can remain ignorant of this cultural treasure. Harry Potter books are a part of children's lives. Isn't it a scandal that the King James Bible isn't as well?'


The King James Bible was commissioned by James I as the Authorised Version to be used in all English institutions in an attempt to stem the rising tide of political disagreement over religion. It was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek by a committee of the nation's foremost scholars between 1604 and 1611. It remained the only Bible authorised for use in this country until the 1950s when newer translations began to gain in popularity.

The former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion said: '"The King James Bible is a cornerstone of our culture and our language. Whatever our faith, whatever we believe, we have to recognise that the rhetorical power of this book, and in particular its power to fuse history with poetry, connects at the most fundamental level with our own history and poetry."