This should be obvious by now: Public universities are not equivalent to private hotel chains. When you stay in a campus hotel room, there’s no reason a Bible should be in your nightstand by default. It may make sense to assume people want one from a business perspective, which is why most private hotels will have one in your room when you arrive, but public schools shouldn’t be making the same mistake. They should keep bibles available for customers who want them — and that’s it.
Northern Illinois University is the latest school to learn that the hard way. When the school’s Secular Student Alliance invited the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Annie Laurie Gaylor to speak, she stayed in the Holmes Student Center and noticed the problem immediately. And why wouldn’t she? FFRF has dealt with this problem several times before.
According to the Chicago Tribune (article behind paywall),
“It sends a message of endorsement — ‘We think it’s so important you can’t possibly go to sleep at night without your Christian Bible in your bedside table'” Gaylor said. “It’s proselytizing in the privacy of a room you probably paid a lot of money for. It’s bad manners.”
Brad Hoey, a university spokesman, said the student center removed the Bibles immediately, even though they had been in the rooms for a number of years.
Hoey said the university would keep only a handful of the Bibles and return the rest to Gideons. A spokesman for Gideons International did not respond to questions.
Before conservatives begins to spin this, there are still bibles available to anyone who wants a copy. They can ask the front desk for one and it’ll be given to them.
The only difference is that neutrality, not Christianity, is now the default mode at the hotel. Just as it should be at a public school.
(Image via Shutterstock)