A hotel run by a public university should not have Bibles in its hotel rooms. (Yes, Universities do run “hotels,” or paid lodging; I’ve stayed in such places many times.) Yet according to the Centre Daily Times, a Central Pennsylvania newspaper, until just recently the two hotels at Penn State University had a Gideon Bible in every room.
That’s clearly unconstitutional. The University realized that, although the reason they gave for just now removing the Bibles (and putting them in the hotel library) was not quite that. It was the Zeitgeist!:
“Penn State decided to remove Bibles from individual guest rooms in both of its hotels, The Nittany Lion Inn and the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, and to place them in public access areas,” Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.
The move was made not to limit the beliefs of one group but to be more inclusive of all, Penn State said.
“In the past few decades, the world and its people have changed dramatically. We wish to be respectful of all religions, and also of those who have differing beliefs, yet we still wanted to ensure the publication was available to those who desire to read it while staying with us,” Powers said. “This action was taken in the spirit of recognizing other religions and beliefs among our guests.”
The move also makes it possible for other groups — such as Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. — to have their beliefs, and their religious books, be put on the same footing.
“It’s my understanding that those publications are certainly accepted if a group wishes to make them available at our hotels,” Powers said.
The religious tomes have been moved to the hotel’s libraries. Maybe not every hotel has its own book collection, but the university’s do. In fact, the Nittany Lion Inn has two of them. The Bibles are also available in some other public access areas. But that doesn’t mean they have to stay there.
State College, PA 16803
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel
215 Innovation Boulevard
State College, PA 16803
Maggie Biddle, general manager of the Atherton Hotel in downtown State College, said her 149 rooms still have Bibles, but that she appreciated the motivation behind Penn State’s move.
“That’s something we might think about ourselves,” she said.
And that got me wondering. Hotels, like all public facilities that cater to travelers, are covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination. Can it be possible that every Gideon Bible in a hotel (even though they’re all donated), is resting there illegally?
Until this is litigated, if it ever is, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sells “Bible warning labels” for $2.00 per dozen, perfect for sticking in those offending Gideon Bibles in your hotel room. The thing is, though, that it still costs 17¢ to assert your freedom from religion:
A cheaper alternative is to simply take a pen and write this at the beginning (it’s not vandalism, as the Bibles are gifts and you’re even urged to take them with you):
ADDENDUM: Reader Adrian just sent me a new t**t that originated from Alistair Coleman about an addition to a hotel Gideon Bible: