Why do so many hotels put a Bible in the nightstand?

Dec. 27, 2017

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It's as common to find a Bible in a hotel room as it is to find mini soaps and a room service menu. Why is this seemingly outdated practice still so popular?

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Bibles have been a hotel room staple for more than 100 years. A religious organization called the Gideons has been donating New Testaments since 1899.

Gideons

The group's website says it puts scriptures in "strategic locations" to make them available for anyone, including "those who may not know they need them."

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Beyond hotels, the Gideons distribute Bibles to public libraries, graduation ceremonies, airplanes, domestic violence shelters, prisons and more.

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Many times, the target audience includes young students in public schools, a clear violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.

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So while donating a book may seem harmless, some groups find the Gideons and their methods controversial. The group has been described as "sinister."

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation sells "warning labels" that opponents can apply to religious liturgy to make their stance heard.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Many guests feel comforted by the presence of a Bible in their hotel room, while others see it as a cheap attempt to convert people.

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Times are changing: Not every hotel room blindly accepts the Bible as a room prop, and many are working to accommodate a scope of religions.

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For example, Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon, offers religious texts by request only.

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It also provides a complimentary “quiet room” on the property’s fifth floor for anyone to meditate, pray or reflect in.

Kimpton

Provenance Hotels offers a “spiritual menu” allowing guests to request a copy of whatever religious text they may want to borrow during a visit.

Provenance Hotels

Public relations director Kate Buska explained: “We wanted to offer something that would enable us to cater to whatever our guest’s spiritual orientation is.”

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