A team of anti-religion activists dedicated to removing those Gideon-placed Bibles from motel rooms says university facilities can’t have them because they’re linked to the government.
And they say private motels can’t have the Bibles, either, because they could “endanger your health and life” and they are as dangerous, like cigarette smoke.
The far-reaching claims are being made in a campaign targeting motel rooms by officials with the Freedom from Religious Foundation, and they are being met with answers from the American Center for Law and Justice, which has written to motels explaining, yes, they can allow Bibles in their rooms under the Constitution’s freedom of speech, and no, the Bibles really aren’t like cigarette smoke.
The letter that just went out on Thursday from the ACLJ to various hotel and motel interests pointed out, first, that there’s no legal reason for the FFRF to make the request.
“In the absence of any legal authority supporting its demand, FFRF instead resorts to an unreasonable and legally baseless ‘heckler’s veto,’ hoping to strong-arm privately held entities to do its bidding,” the letter said. “FFRF thus invades the realm of private businesses making business decisions. It is the hotel’s prerogative – and only the hotel’s prerogative – to decide whether to honor time-tested traditions.”
The FFRF previously has demanded that crosses be removed from war memorials, a Tennessee police department kill its “Adopt a Cop” program, a sheriff’s office in Texas abandon plans to place white cross stickers on their patrol cars, university sports programs drop their chaplains and the national motto, “In God We Trust,” be taken off the nation’s money and buildings.
In fact, FFRF has argued the Bible should be marked with “the placement of a skull and crossbones warning label.”
The ACLJ letter to hotels and their associations points out the obvious.
“In its letter, FFRF asserts: ‘It’s time that the lodging industry just says NO to the Gideons. The Gideon Society is exploiting hotels and motels to proselytize a captive audience.’ But to proselytize is to ‘induce someone to convert to one’s faith’ or ‘to recruit someone to join one’s party, institution, or cause.’ Hence, proselytization connotes action. It’s hard to imagine how placing a book inside a closed drawer could amount to proselytization. Indeed, an FFRF co-president recently described how she searched through her hotel room and was shocked to discover a Bible in the fourth drawer she opened.”
The letter continued, “According to the FFRF: ‘Many of your guests are freethinkers – atheists, agnostics, skeptics or Nones – who are offended to be charged high fees only to be proselytized in the privacy of their own bedrooms,’ and, ‘It’s simply bad business to promote divisive religious teachings to a diverse clientele.’ Again, making a book available in a closed drawer is no more akin to promotion or proselytization than making a religious channel available on a hotel television. There is no captive audience in a hotel room. ….
“FFRF asserts that ‘many of us object to renting a hotel room only to be greeted by a bible,’ as if the Bible jumps from the drawer and greets them. But a reasonable person, finding offense at the existence of a Bible in a nightstand drawer on the premises of a private business, may simply not open the book, just as one offended by what is available on a hotel television may choose to change the channel or not turn on the television at all,” the ACLJ said.
“We assure you that no reasonable-minded guests perceives the Gudeon’s Bible as an act of coercion or proselytization by your company.”
The ACLJ reported that the FFRF earlier had demanded hotels linked to universities drop the Bibles, claiming a state-church violation. The ACLJ said it is responding to those locations explaining that Bibles are, in fact, constitutional.
The foundation’s next move was to try influencing private companies.
“It claims to have sent letters – demanding that Bibles be removed from hotel rooms – to Wyndham Worldwide, Intercontinental Hotel Groups (Holiday Inn), Choice Hotels International (Quality Inn), Hilton Worldwide, G6 Hospitality (Motel 6), Marriott International, Best Western, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (Radisson, Carlson, Country Inn) and Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Sheraton). FFRF also sent a similar letter to the American Hotel & Lodging Association in Washington, D.C.,” the ACLJ reported.
“Contrary to FFRF’s distorted characterizations, Bibles in hotel rooms are perfectly constitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States has been unequivocal that angry atheists like FFRF don’t enjoy a ‘heckler’s veto,'” the group said of the Bibles in rooms of privately held companies.
Its letters to those operations are in response to the FFRF claims the Bible “may endanger your health and life” and needs to have a warning label containing the skull and crossbones on it.
The FFRF said, “We consider it an important consumer complaint, much like asking for smoke-free rooms.”
“That’s right,” the ACLJ explained, “the Bible, sitting in a bedside drawer, poses a public safety hazard.”
An official with the FFRF group had told Hilton hotels, after finding a Bible in his room: “That book calls me a corrupt and filthy fool (Psalm 14). Do you agree with that? Your ‘family’ hotel is endorsing hatred of family (Matthew 10-34-37) and dashing babies against rocks (Psalm 137-9. It is a violent fiction about a bloodthirsty, genocidal, filicidal pestilential, petty, vindictive, ethnic-cleanser war-god who ordered the execution of nonbelievers like me (John 15:6, 2 Chron. 15:13, Deut. 13:12-16) and whose jealous anger is only appeased by shedding blood on an altar or a cross.”
The hotel responded, “I have noted in your profile for your next stay to remove the Bible from your room.”