The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state-church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., has scored another victory for secularism on public college campuses.
Late last year, FFRF persuaded the University of Wisconsin-Madison to remove Gideon bibles from the Lowell Center, its campus inn. Now it has likewise persuaded the Memorial Union at Iowa State University-Ames to remove bibles from its hotel rooms.
Richard S. Reynolds, director of the union, responded Feb. 13 by email: "The concern you raised about the availability of Bibles in the guest rooms of the Memorial Union has been taken under advisement and, effective March 1, 2014, the Bibles will be removed from the Hotel rooms."
FFRF received a complaint about the religious propaganda on state property from one of its Iowa members.
"It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a government entity cannot in any way promote, advance, or otherwise endorse religion," wrote Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott in FFRF's Jan. 29 letter to Reynolds. "If a state-run university has a policy of providing a Christian religious text to guests, that policy facilitates illegal endorsement of Christianity over other religions and over nonreligion. Permitting members of outside religious groups the privilege of placing their religious literature in public university guest rooms also constitutes state endorsement and advancement of religion.
"Individuals, not the state, must determine what religious texts are worth reading."
"We're delighted to see reason and the Constitution prevailing. We can all sleep easier knowing secularism is being honored at our public universities," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
"Many nonbelievers greatly object to its primitive and dangerous instructions to beat children, kill homosexuals, atheists and infidels," Gaylor added, "and that it sanctions the subjugation of women, who are scapegoated for bringing sin and death into the world.
"Imagine the uproar if someone found a Quran or Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion' in their state-supported hotel room. Government can't take sides on the religious debate."
FFRF, which has more than 20,000 members, represents nearly 150 Iowa members.