For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. [Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)]
Living in a nation where we worship freely and can both possess and read the Bible, we can easily get complacent and forget that Satan is trying to defeat the spread of the gospel message. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, those Gideon Bibles we find in our hotel rooms are becoming an endangered species. In this era of political correctness and inclusiveness, hotels want to avoid offending people of other faiths or no faith at all. Two years ago, for example, citing “diversity” reasons, the Travelodge chain in the United Kingdom removed Bibles from all of its rooms. Last year, the Freedom from Religion Foundation asked fifteen major hotel companies to keep Bibles out of hotel rooms. With threats of lawsuits, they succeeded in convincing hotels operated by some state universities in Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa to do just that. The FFRF has also printed a sticker reading, “Warning: Literal belief in this book may endanger your health and life.” They encourage their supporters to place the stickers on any hotel room Bible they find.
Kowtowing to those who preach freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion is not the only reason Bibles are disappearing from hotels. Many of the newer hotels don’t have nightstands. While they found discreetly hiding a Bible in a drawer acceptable, hotels feel placing a Bible on an open shelf is too strong a religious statement. There is also a perception that younger travelers aren’t interested in religion. Although the Marriott chain of hotels has offered both the Bible and the Book of Mormon in the rooms of all of their hotel franchises, their two new hotel brands, Moxy and Edition, will have no kind of religious material. Geared toward “fun-loving millennials,” Marriott’s spokesperson explained that religious books “don’t fit the personality of the brands.” Promising that the bar is always open, their website describes a Moxy hotel as “a free-spirited place where you can do all that crazy fun stuff you’d never think of doing at home, together with likeminded spirits you’d otherwise never have met.”
When asked about their elimination of Bibles, many hotels chains respond that people who really want to read the Bible already have one with them. That’s probably true but I’m not concerned about those people who want to read the Bible. It’s the people who need to read the Bible who concern me—be it a travelling salesman who just got a pink slip instead of an order, someone contemplating adultery, a family whose child is undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital, a woman who’s left her abusive husband, someone trying desperately to stay sober one more night or even one of those millennials who has regrets about some of that crazy fun. They are the ones who need a Bible and just might be looking for one in their hotel room some night.
Today’s hotels usually offer Wi-Fi and many offer mini bars, iPod docking stations, large flat-screen TVs and even pay-per-view X-rated entertainment. What surprised me was learning that some hotels now offer a variety of something called “intimacy kits” that come with condoms, massage oils and other sex aids. Nevertheless, some of those same hotel chains don’t want to offend anyone by leaving a Bible in their room!
Let us never forget that the enemy is out and about and eager to keep people from God’s word. As for me, I just made a donation to the Gideons so they can keep distributing Bibles to police, fire, medical and military personnel and continue placing Bibles in prisons, schools, hospitals, medical offices, shelters and any hotels that will still take them. I’m also considering placing stickers on hotel room Bibles that read: “Warning: not believing what’s written in this book is hazardous to your everlasting life!”