FFRF requests ‘bible-free’ hotel rooms

1BibleAn invasive species is defined as "not native to a specific location and which has a tendency to spread to a degree which causes damage in some respect upon exposure." You could say that sounds a lot like Gideon bibles in a bedstand drawer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation thinks so, and is making a major consumer request to the hospitality industry, asking it to be more hospitable to non-Christian and nonreligious clientele by offering "bible-free" rooms.

Gideons International is "exploiting hotels and motels to proselytize a captive audience," FFRF has informed the American Hotel and Motel Association.

In early December, FFRF sent a letter to a number of companies, including 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).

All told, the 15 companies contacted are responsible for more than 33,000 hotels in the U.S. and more than 4.1 million rooms internationally.

"Those who must read the bible every day will surely take precautions to travel with their own copies. The rest of us deserve a break from mindless evangelizing when we are on vacation," wrote Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor on behalf of FFRF's 23,000 nonreligious members.

"Many of your guests are freethinkers — atheists, agnostics, skeptics or 'nones' — who are deeply offended to be charged high fees only to be proselytized in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Not only that, the bible calls for killing nonbelievers, apostates, gays, 'stubborn sons' and women who transgress biblical double standards," FFRF noted. As an organization whose members embrace reason and science, FFRF would prefer placement of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" to the invasive Gideons (though the letter doesn't request that).

FFRF does ask the hotel industry to follow the lead of Gansevoort Hotel Groups, which, to provide a friendlier environment, removed religious materials from guest rooms but provides such materials upon request. Many boutique hotels have likewise stopped serving as a conduit for Protestant missionaries. Travelodge (UK) removed bibles from more than 500 hotels last August "in order not to discriminate against any religion."

Thanks to Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel for his research help.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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