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A Bible in your bedside drawer has always been one of those comforting mediocre hotel room givens, like toiletries of dubious provenance and chocolates – if you’re lucky enough to get them – that taste of cardboard. But could this be coming to an end?
Travelodge is currently coming under fire in the UK for removing Bibles from all its hotel rooms, “because of diversity reasons” and “‘in order not to discriminate against any religion”. Predictably, there’s a firestorm of people on Twitter vowing to switch allegiance to Premier Inn, and the Church of England declaring that: “It seems both tragic and bizarre that hotels would remove the word of God for the sake of ergonomic design, economic incentive or a spurious definition of the word ‘diversity’.”
In actual fact, the story isn’t as extreme as it sounds at first – the Bibles, which were always provided free of charge by the Gideon Society, haven’t been burned or chucked out – Travelodge says they are being “retained” and will be doled out by reception on request. What’s more, in surely the most telling part of this story, Travelodge says this decision was taken in 2007, and the hotels have been steadily implementing it since then, without receiving any complaints until the Daily Mail got wind of it last week.
While the good little girls and boys of the world are donning their pastel Easter outfits and running around searching for Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, the American Atheists are going to be partying it up at the Embassy Suites in Des Moines, Iowa this weekend.
The God-less group is hosting their national convention this weekend at the hotel and an estimated 700 people are expected to attend. That might not seem like a lot but apparently the Embassy Suites is already sold-out so the AA is pointing the overflow to the nearby Marriott. Gasp! What will the Mormons think about that?
The convention will feature several different speakers but will also host a Costume Buffet dinner tonight and a DeBaptism event, which is exactly what it sounds like. Now, we wonder how many people will be dressing up like the Easter Bunny for the buffet dinner tonight?
While it seems that bibles in the nightstand are on their way out--or at least hotels are leaning towards more non-demoninational spiritual texts--one hotel in Nashville isn't giving up on Christianity entirely. The Gaylord Opryland Hotel offers guests keycards with advertisements for GodTube.com which is exactly what you think it is--a Christian video sharing site. Um...okaaaaay.....
Hotel ads on keycards are not new. Vegas hotels have advertised their shows on keycards for years. Hilton Hotels recently did a crosspromo on their keycards for that movie, Up in the Air and down in Mexico, the Intercontinental Guadalajara even advertised help for sexual dysfunction on their room keys. (Yes, way!)
But advertising for a religious site like GodTube.com might be a first. We wonder what the American Atheists would have to say about this.
What do you think about advertising for GodTube on the hotel keycards--praise the Lord or should we just stick with YouTube? Let us know your thoughts in comments below!
The yin and yang of top-drawer reading material at the Shangri-La Sydney.
When we first enter a hotel room, we like to poke around and open drawers, checking out every tiny detail. But we were shocked to see a bible—and The Teaching of Buddha—when we flung open the nightstand drawer at the Shangri-La Sydney recently.
We shouldn't have been, of course. Bibles have been a mainstay of hotel rooms for at least a century. But aside from this encounter, we haven't actually seen one in eons. As hotels increasingly focus on providing geeked-up rooms with fancy light settings, glossy flatscreen TVs, and (more, please) free WiFi, they seem to be leaving the good old Gideons behind. But is this a good thing or not? Are hotels losing their religion, and does anyway care?
Portland's Hotel Lucia likes to include everyone. They've got a packages that invite chocolate lovers (no, really, lovers) that includes an edible chocolate tattoo kit and chocolate whipped cream, and they've got a package called "He/He She/She Whatevah" that offers romantic amenities to all couples.
And as far as religion goes, well, chances are they've got you covered there, too. We were cruising around Flickr when we happened upon user Bryan Veloso's shot from a recent stay at the Lucia. He writes:
Hotel Lucia in Portland had a lot of great amenities despite their $14 internet. This was one of them, press the "Get it Now" button and have a spiritual book of your choice delivered to your room.
Okay, let's ignore the $14 connectivity charge for now and echo the photographer's sentiments here: what? The Book of Mormon to Scientology?
Well, we suppose if we're interested and don't want to pay $14 to Google it, we may as well be happy that we can at least read up on it the old-fashioned way.
[Photo: Brian Veloso]
Little bro Jaunted tells us, Nikki Six of Motley Crue and Kat Von D, star of LA Ink are in love. In love with themselves, in love with each other and in love with the dapper dandy that is the Bowery Hotel's logo. We guess they believe in the religion of Ink.
In other religious but tattoo-free news:
· Forget the bible in the nightstand. Or the Torah or the Koran. The Hotel Preston in Tennessee is now offering a spiritual menu where you pick what you wanna read. [FoxNews]
· Obama's former preacher Reverend Wright hits up the Ritz-Carlton in Puerto Rico. [Page Six]
· Hotel QT is hosting the "Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture." If you stop by pick us up the pencil with double-sided erasers that says "Life Without Jesus is like this pencil; no point to it." [Page Six]
· Create your own field of dreams: Baseball fans can get hotel deals. Check-out our MLB Hotels map to see where to stay nearest the ballparks. [ABC News]
· If you want to go to jail but are too much of a wuss to violate the Ten Commandments, then stay in a Jail Hotel! [Urbanist]
The Gaia Napa Valley Hotel made waves last week for putting copies of Al Gore's book An Inconvenient Truth in its guestrooms and removing the bible from the nightstands. However, the owner Wen-I Chang has said that the hotel's "replacement" of the bible has been overexaggerated.
Chang, 62, said in a telephone interview that Gaia had not "replaced" the Bible with Gore's book, as has been claimed by some media outlets.
Instead, he said, the hotel staff overlooked providing Bibles in their haste to prepare for the official grand opening March 30 and did not intentionally leave them out of the rooms.
"I apologize to Christians" who may have been offended, Chang said. "We made an oversight."
Chang, a Taiwanese immigrant and a Buddhist, said that as soon as the issue came to his attention this week he instructed his staff to put Bibles in the hotel's nightstands. Copies of Buddhist scripture also will go in the drawers within the month.
And Al Gore's book will remain in the guestrooms as well. But let's just hope Chang doesn't get caught up in the race of trying to please everyone here. There's just not enough room in the nightstand for that.
· Bible not inconvenient, says hotel owner [Medill Reports]
· Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth' Replaces Bibles in Green Hotel [HotelChatter]
The whole sad process began with a complaint by a guest who had found a Bible in a drawer in his hotel room. He wrote to Mona Andersson, the head marketing executive at Scandic hotels. She wrote back [my translation]: "Thank you for your e-mail and your views. Yes, we have traditionally had the Bible/New testament available at our hotel rooms. But all religions are welcome at Scandic so as of today we encourage all our hotels to remove the Bible from their rooms. The Bible will be available at the reception as a service for our guests.
All 130 Scandic hotels in ten countries such as Denmark, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands and Norway will pull the bibles from their rooms.
We're guessing this ain't gonna happen at Marriott anytime soon. But never fear, your very own handheld bible trivia game is here!
· Finding you religion in the nightstand [HotelChatter]
· Must ... remove ... all Bibles ... from all Scandic hotels [Scandic Hotel Bibles]
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