No Bibles allowed in Saudi Arabia

Take a look at this link from Saudi Arabian Airlines. I quote:

Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are also prohibited. These may include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David, and others.

I know a number of LDS academics and businessmen, and probably military and government people, have traveled to Saudi Arabia recently. I’m wondering if they have had their scriptures confiscated upon entry. I travel worldwide and usually bring my scriptures (although these days I have been carrying my Treo and reading the scriptures on the small screen).

I’m wondering if Saudi authorities would look differently at personal scriptures with somebody’s name on them and a box full of Bibles, for example. Any input from our readers?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

6 thoughts on “No Bibles allowed in Saudi Arabia

  1. My father-in-law has lived in Saudi Arabia several times on business projects. He has never had his scriptures confiscated. He said they looked through his bags but didn’t take anything. He had his scriptures underneath some clothes, though, so I don’t know if they saw them or not. He thinks they did and just didn’t care.

    If any item belonging to a non-Islamic religion is prohibited, would that include temple garments? What about culturally Mormon items that aren’t actually part of the religion itself, like CTR rings and YW medallions, or that kitschy Return with Honor memorabilia?

  2. Good questions, JKC. My guess is they mostly care about obviously religious stuff like crosses, stars of David and people bringing in Bibles to proselytize. That’s my guess, anyway.

    I wonder if the people with the Nephi Project have ever had their scriptures confiscated.

  3. I remember the GAs traveling with scriptures but the regular residents got tired of losing them so they were very heavy on digital versions. I remember high councilmen printed various passages for their Franklin Planners and swapped them out when they were ready to read the next section. Reminded me of how the Apostles’ epistles must have circulated under the radar in the early centuries of the Church.

    I remember back in the 90s reading in a Gulf paper that on Christmas day three asian workers were hanged in Saudi for putting on a blasphemous play, the deities offended were Hindu and Christian if I recall. So the law protects religion too–after their fashion.

    @1 CTR rings and garments are okay, but books entitled “Jesus the Christ” are pushing it. If you are keeping quiet then there is little chance you are trying to get a Muslim from denying the faith, which is, as I understand it the reason for the laws, so it would have to be overt or intended for proselytizing before the average inspector would act. The Mutawa… that’s a different story (“short skirts” the religious police).

  4. Quandmeme, a couple questions: did you live there? when you say regular residents “got tired of losing them,” do you mean that the Mutawa or others would confiscate the scriptures of LDS people in Saudi Arabia?

  5. My Uncle has taught at one of the Universities in Saudi Arabia a couple of times, in total I believe he has lived there three years. He said occasionally items like Bibles and crucifixes would sometimes be confiscated, either in the airport, or if you were seen walking around with them. These times didn’t seem to be the norm though, and were usually happening to people that he described as “flaunting them”. He also said he’s never had trouble with BOM’s, garments or any other LDS-only type thing. I assume they aren’t familiar enough with us to know they’re Christian symbols.

    He isn’t there right now, he did say though friends over there have told him it seems to be getting a little worse(he didn’t say how).

    From the stories he’s told, it doesn’t sound like a great place to live unless you’re a Saudi man. My aunt and female cousins hated it.

  6. Haven’t been and don’t intend to go but I suppose they are not looking at scriptures stored on Pocket PC’s and Palm Pilots.

    We know a lot of LDS families who have been to KSA and the Gulf States. No one seems to have had any trouble with scripturs but Church (in KSA) is done with casual clothes and at member’s homes in small groups under the guise of entertaining. They rotate homes so that there is no sense that one family has a regular assembly. In the other gulf states they do assemble in rented meeting spaces but they are careful to send muslims packing. Only the landlord can attend their meetings.

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