FFRF Legals sweep Bible Belters, 2-0

Northern Illinois University in DeKalb promptly removed all Gideon bibles from the Holmes Student Center Hotel after getting an Oct. 20 complaint letter from FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne, who wrote, “Certainly, if guests want to read this religious text during their stay, they can bring their own copy or access any of the numerous churches or libraries near the university.”

The next day, Gregory Brady, deputy general counsel, responded that the university “will be removing any such bibles from their hotel guest rooms.”

“We’re grateful to NIU for so promptly making a decision to respect all of its hotel guests and stay above the religious fray,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. She and her husband, Co-President Dan Barker, were staying at the hotel while in town to speak to a Secular Student Alliance chapter when they discovered the bibles in the room.

“The bible calls for killing nonbelievers, apostates, gays, ‘stubborn sons,’ and women who transgress biblical double standards. What’s obnoxious in a private hotel, however, becomes inappropriate and unconstitutional in state-run lodgings,” commented Gaylor.

State universities in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Iowa have also recently removed bibles from guest rooms after being contacted by FFRF.

(You can purchase bible warning labels online at ffrf.org/shop.)

• • •

Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction will no longer distribute bibles to nursing school graduates as part of their “pinning” ceremony after the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers sent complaint letters. FFRF learned of the Gideon bible distribution in November from several CMU students and community members.

College President Tim Foster announced on Nov. 18: “I have sought legal counsel and researched legal precedent. I have listened to the divergent viewpoints of others. Taking all that into consideration, the bible give-away at the pinning ceremony will be discontinued.”

Nursing students had apparently been told the bible distribution was a “non-negotiable” part of the ceremony.

“Thrusting bibles at students — who may be of varying faiths or no faith — at graduation is coercive, embarrassing and beyond the scope of our public higher education system,” wrote Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel in his complaint letter to Foster. “This matter is especially troublesome in light of the wide range of cultures and faiths that were represented at graduation.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation