Government plans to give a free copy of the King James Bible to every state school have been branded by secular groups as a waste of money that favours Christianity in multi-faith state schools.

Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced the move as part of the 400th anniversary of the book's publication.

He said: "The King James Bible has had a profound impact on our culture. Every school pupil should have the opportunity to learn about this book and the impact it has had on our history, language, literature and democracy."

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The King James Bible is celebrating its 400th anniversary

However, the National Secular Society (NSS) who campaign against religious privilege in British society argue that the religious significance of the text cannot be understated.

Terry Sanderson, president of the NSS said: "This is not simply another piece of literature, it is the holy scripture of one particular religion. Is it really the job of the Government to be promoting one particular religion in schools that are increasingly multi-faith?"

The project to distribute a copy to every primary and secondary school will cost £370,000. Although this figure has been raised privately rather than through the tax payer, the NSS has questioned the motives behind those who have contributed.

A number of backers to the project have been identified as significant Tory donors and evangelical Christians.

Sanderson said: "I fear that many of these supporters of the project are more interested in the proselytising opportunity than in the literary value of this book."