Finding Your Religion in the Nightstand

June 15, 2006 at 4:12 PM | by | ()

When was the last time you checked a hotel room nightstand to make sure the bible was there? Yeah, we don't remember either. Hotel guests today are much more obsessed with WiFi access, room views, and cool amenities than religion.

But the history of the bible in hotel rooms is interesting. A group fittingly named the International Bible Society started dropping bibles in hotel rooms in 1823. Later another Christian group, the Gideon Society, began their aggressive campaign for bibles in hotel rooms.

In the early days, most of the Gideons were traveling salesmen who wanted to be effecitve Christian witnesses while on the road. They decided to place a Bible at the reception desk in each hotel they frequented so patrons could borrow it. The Bible also served as a silent witness in these hotels after the Gideons had checked out.

Today, the society is responsible for placing 45 million bibles a year in hotel rooms, prisons, hospitals, and military bases.

However, not many hotels are keen on keeping up with the bible tradition. Since 1999, hotels have started to pull the bible from its rooms in recognition of other faiths. The Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City decided not to place bibles in the room when they opened three years ago. Marriott Hotels, whose owning family is Mormon, started to place the Book of Mormon next to the bible. Several other hotel chains are providing options for guests of various faiths like Buddhists texts, prayer mats and little signs for the direction of Mecca.

But perhaps there was another reason aside from religious tolerance for replacing bibles. One tipster tells us that guests at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills were stealing them.

If you have a story of redemption involving a hotel bible, or if you stole one, we'd love to hear your story of faith so spread the good word.

Image via goatopolis/Flickr

Related Stories:
· Gideon Society [Straight Dope]
· Casino Bans Bibles from Rooms [FoxNews]

Archived Comments:

Stealing Hotel Room Bibles

Actually, the Gideon Bible Society wants the person staying in the room to take the Bible with them when they leave. Its impossible to steal a Bible from a room. Its already an automatic gift to whoever wants one.