University Removes Bibles From Student Center Hotel

| by Daniel Rivera
Bibles In A Hotel Room Drawer.Bibles In A Hotel Room Drawer.

Northern Illinois University removed all Bibles from its Holmes Student Hotel after the Freedom From Religion Foundation Legal Fellow Ryan D. Jayne wrote a letter deeming it unconstitutional on Oct. 20.

The letter was sent to Norm Jenkins, director of the Holmes Student Center, according to an Oct. 30 press release from FFRF.

"Providing bibles to Holmes Student Center Hotel guests sends the message that NIU endorses the religious texts," the letter read in part. "Including bibles sends the message to non-Christian and non-religious guests that they should read the bible, and specifically the version of the bible provided: the Gideon Bible. Certainly, if guests want to read this religious text during their stay, they can bring their own copy or access any of the numerous churches or libraries near the university."

University officials responded on Oct. 21 by removing the Bibles from all the rooms in the hotel.

FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and husband Dan Barker discovered Bibles in their hotel rooms during their stay in the Holmes Student Center while in town to speak to a chapter of the Secular Student Alliance.

"Nonreligious hotel guests should not have to pay to be proselytized in the privacy of their own bedrooms," Gaylor said inFFRF's press release. "The bible calls for killing nonbelievers, apostates, gays, 'stubborn sons,' and women who transgress biblical double standards. What's obnoxious in a private hotel, however, becomes inappropriate and unconstitutional in state-run lodgings."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), however, said that the university was not proselytizing or forcing hotel guests to read the Bibles in their rooms, according to a scathing account of the incident on its website. The organization also writes that the practice is protected by the Constitution and past Supreme Court rulings. 

Sources: Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Center for Law and Justice

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee/Flickr, carl & tracy gossett/Flickr