Should Copies of the Bible Be Removed From Hotel Rooms?

C opies of the Bible have been removed from the rooms of greater than 500 Travelodge hotel properties throughout the United Kingdom because having a Christian book does not reflect Britain’s “multicultural society” despite not receiving any complaints from guests about this practice, according to an article written by Jessica Elgot of The Huffington Post UK.

Guests who want to read a copy of the Bible may request a copy at the front desk.

“The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through sharing personally and by providing Bibles and New Testaments”, according to its official Internet web site. “While we are known worldwide for our work with hotels, we predominantly share Scriptures in schools and colleges, prisons and jails, hospitals, and medical offices. To date, we have placed 1.9 billion Scriptures and are on our way to 2 billion with your support.”

Well, this Travelodge story presents a minor setback to that goal, doesn’t it?

Although the city is better known for its vaunted and historic music industry, the printing of religious materials is a major industry in Nashville  — and it is also the home of the headquarters of The Gideons International, which was founded on July 1, 1899.

“Each Bible placed in a hotel room has the potential to reach up to 2,300 people in its estimated six-year life span”, according to the section of its Internet web site which answers frequently asked questions. “Research from the hotel industry tells us that approximately 25% of travelers read the Bibles in their hotel rooms.”

According to this article written by Matt Soniak of Mental Floss, “The Gideons don’t go room to room themselves, slipping the books in nightstands like Bible elves. When a hotel opens, local Gideons members will present a Bible to the hotel’s general manager in a small ceremony and then give enough books for each room and some extras to the housekeeping staff for distribution. In addition to hotel rooms, the Gideons also give Bibles to military bases, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and to students on college campuses. Each Bible handed out is free of charge, and the project is funded entirely by donations to the group.”

I personally have never heard of the legend that “money is sometimes left in Gideon Bibles by Christians looking to reward the next tortured soul who turns to the Good Book for solace.” Have you?

At this time, I had not found out just how much money the Herculean effort of supplying copies of the Bible to hotel rooms alone costs — but I suppose that is not relevant.

I do find it ever so slightly ironic that the country in which the copies of the Bible is the same one from which The Beatles came — and one of their many songs is a little ditty from 1968 called Rocky Raccoon, from which this lyric is derived:

And now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon’s bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky’s revival, ah

Personally, I have never been offended about finding a copy of the Bible in the nightstand drawer in any hotel room at which I have ever stayed; so it would stand to reason that I am not against them having them supplied in hotel rooms.

In fact, that nightstand drawer would look pretty empty without a copy of the Bible. Due to technology, I have noticed that copies of traditional telephone books have been slowly disappearing from hotel rooms. That should save a forest full of trees…

…but I digress. While I attempt in vain to get the song Rocky Raccoon out of my head, please comment on whether or not you believe that copies of the Bible should be removed from hotel rooms…

    1. Thank you, Andrew.

      Well, I finally got the Rocky Raccoon song out of my head — but it has been inexplicably replaced with a song by ABBA…

  1. A business decision for the owners. Personally, I would rather have randomly selected Michener novels in the nightstand. To each his own.

    1. Now you have my mind going, Randy — and that can be a dangerous thing.

      I wonder if a deal could be arranged with a company supplying novels, movies or music to hotel rooms for a limited time to promote them. Hotel property makes money; potential boost of sales for promoter of material; guest has variety of entertainment options other than channels on the television. Win, win, win.

      I have not yet figured out the part on how to prevent guests from stealing them. Hey — this just came to me only a moment ago after reading your comment…

  2. I think the bibles should stay. It doesn’t really hurt anyone now does it?

    Most country inn Carlson hotels have books you can borrow on the first floor. Usually there is a bookcase full. To me it’s silly since I can’t read a whole novel in one night but I know others can.

    Many cruise ships have books for loan but not many bibles usually.

  3. There are free apps to put the bible on your smartphone. I prefer to read the bible on my smartphone and not the book in the hotel room. God finds a way to get his message out whether or not people remove these books from the hotel rooms.

    1. I would think verses would be easier and quicker to find electronically than traditionally, Danny. Good idea!

  4. To remove something that has caused no complaints (and is perhaps read by 25% of the people staying there) is just stupid. I would say the same if they decided to not put skin moisturizer lotion in the room and made you come to the front desk to get it if you want it.

    The business decision aspect might be right. They couldn’t figure out how to monetize the bible.

    1. …but the copies of the Bible are at no cost to the hotel property, Carl P — they are funded through donations to The Gideons International; so I am not sure about the business decision part.

      I do agree that if there are no complaints from the guests, then why fix something that is not broken?

  5. Guests can come from any country and culture, and have any religion or no religion. Why should one religion be given prominence over any other in a hotel chain that has no religious affiliation? How would the people who support bibles in hotel rooms feel if only the Old Testament [Hebrew scripture] were provided? What if only the Koran were offered? The Bhagavad Gita? I do not rent a room in a hotel to be passively proselytized, and if you are not willing to accept other holy books, how would you fairly decide which ones are acceptable? The most respectful option would be to just assume people who are interested will bring their own books.

    1. I’d love to get a Koran and I’m Christian. No one is passively proselytizing you. If you don’t want to read it, don’t pick it up. Being offended by it is pathetic.

    2. Why don’t member of other religions give their books out then? If someone put a copy of the Gita Quran in a hotel room, then that would be one more free book to read. But nobody does. That leaves just the Bible, which obviously is so important that a group like the Gideons would be willing to spend a lot of money, time and effort printing and distributing. The Gideons are doing a good thing and should be appreciated.

  6. Brian – I wasn’t saying it cost them anything – just that they don’t make anything off it (or they’d keep it).

    WAE – I don’t know that hotels are showing any preference or if it’s just that nobody gives them the Koran for free. Maybe I’m weird, but if the Koran was in the drawer I might take a look (intellectual curiosity) rather than feeling “passively proselytized” from the closed nightstand drawer. The Book of Mormon at Marriott never bothered me. Maybe multiculturalism also requires some tolerance.

  7. If another religion were to supply their sacred writings, fair play would require a hotel to place them in the rooms as well. Let other religions follow the lead of the Gideons and be a part of sharing their own sacred writings.

    By the way, Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Christians all regard the first five books of the Bible as sacred writings. Travelodge, please do your research, treat your customers with respect, let them make their own choices, stop pushing your secular agenda, and stop warring against everybody with a spiritual mindset.

  8. Why is there a need to have ANY religious book in a hotel? If a guest wants a Bible, regardless of the version they can bring their own, end of story.

  9. There are over a dozen major religions in the world and, at best guess, thousands of additional minor religions. It would be impossible for a hotel chain to cater to such a diverse population of spiritual or agnostic guests with texts representing every viewpoint.

    I would guess that devout people carry a bible with them when they travel that supports their own religious beliefs. A loss of a bible in the room shouldn’t be catastrophic and, much like toiletries and extra blankets, it can still be requested from the front desk. When I stay in a hotel, the least of my needs is spiritual renewal. Moving a bible from the room to the front desk has no impact on my stay. I think there is a silent majority of guests who feel the same way.

      1. Strange… I read FlyerTalk, a few BA blogs, and some other sites. Just noticed that you and FT have covered a few of the same topic… and your posts always appear after theirs.

  10. I’m an atheist. I go to hotels all the time. And I have never been offended by a bible in the room. I’m ok with them putting them there. I don’t see how it hurts anybody. No atheist is going to be convinced of any religion because there’s a bible in the room. The funny thing is when you go to some areas of the country it also has a Book of Mormon. I guess the bible could convert people to Christianity, likewise some mildly religious people might look at it and realize they are an atheist. Because the book has a lot of really bad recommendations and rules and stuff in it.

  11. Kinda late to the game with this one, but I recently saw that Gideons now have a Bible app that will read to you including dramatization and music in a whole bunch of different languages. You can pick it up for free at

  12. I have been a volunteer with the Gideons for 30 years. The author is partially correct; we do have “dedications” when new hotels open, whereupon all the hotel rooms are supplied with bibles at no cost. Then, once a year after that, with the cooperation of the hotel, the Gideons return, usually in mid-day while the rooms are being cleaned, and a hotel staff person does accompany the Gideons from room room so we can replace any missing or damaged bibles. We do this because people frequently take the copy of the bible with them when they check out, and bibles also get worn, defaced, or damaged over time. The Gideons exist in 200 countries, where hundreds of thousands of volunteers like me distribute bibles in hotels, jails, hospitals, schools, to the military, and individuals. If other religious groups choose to place their materials alongside the bible, i have no problem with that. In the years I have been a Gideon, I have occasionally seen copies of “sacred books’ from other religious organizations in hotel rooms alongside our bibles. I am simply a longtime member of the Gideons and not an authorized spokesman for the ministry. But if people wonder why we volunteer our time to distribute bibles, I can only speak for myself: The bible has been such a source of spiritual blessing, comfort, wisdom and understanding in my life I want to help make it possible for others who wishe to read the bible for themselves so they can make an informed decision about the truth claims of Christianity.

  13. Any organization that accepts Gideons bibles is actually passive promoting one version of the bible since that bible has been re-translated and re-interpenetrated over and over through the years. A place of lodge for all should not be promoting a religion at all.

    And that Good Book:
    Titus 2:9
    ” Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, ”

    Nothing like Hotels passively promoting slavery.

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