FFRF request removes bibles from Penn State hotels

A Freedom From Religion Foundation letter of complaint resulted in removal of Gideon bibles from hotels from a third public university. FFRF received word Sept. 3 from the general counsel at Pennsylvania State University that bibles have been removed from the Nittany Lion Inn and the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College. Both are run by the university. 

FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote Penn State President Eric Barron on June 6 after receiving a complaint about bibles being encountered at the Nittany Lion Inn. 

“State-run colleges have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion. When a government entity like PSU distributes religious material to visitors, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message, in this case a Christian message,” Cavell wrote. 

“As you may know, the mission of the Gideons is to ‘win the lost for Christ.’ The Gideon bible and the Gideons’ efforts to proselytize have frequently brought about conflict with nonreligious persons and persons from minority faiths. Individuals, not the state, must determine what religious texts are worth reading,” she added. 

FFRF complaints removed bibles late last year from the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Lowell Hall in Madison, and earlier this year from Iowa State University hotel guest rooms. 

“No nonreligious hotel guests should have to pay high prices to be proselytized in the privacy of their own bedrooms,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The bible calls for killing nonbelievers, apostates, gays, ‘stubborn sons,’ and women who are not virgins on their wedding nights. What is obnoxious in a private hotel, however, becomes inappropriate and unconstitutional in state-run lodgings.” 

Gaylor added, “So we’re grateful to Penn State for making this decision to respect all its hotel guests and stay above the religious fray.”

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.

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