If atheist and traveling in Britain, stay at the Travelodge: no bibles

There’s no real story here, but Fox and the Daily Mail and others like them want to make it one, apparently. Which article to pick on first.. the Mail, I guess, since Fox is just paraphrasing that anyway. The hotel’s stance is that they opted to pull the bibles once they renovated rather than promote one set of beliefs and ignore others.

A Church of England spokesman said: ‘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”.’

It seems not all Travelodges even have Bibles available on request. At the branch in Battersea, south London, there was no Bible in the room or behind reception.

When requested, the receptionist could not find a copy and said no one had ever asked him for one in his four months of working there.Instead, he suggested using the hotel’s free wifi to ‘Google it and read it online’.

That seems a little on the “How dare he!?” side of things but isn’t it kind of silly to assume a hotel chain ought to store bibles on the premises? If you need a bible in your hotel room when you travel, why don’t you just bring your own? He has a point about just going online to find one, though. They’re everywhere. Pick whatever translation you want and you can find it to read somewhere. I prefer the Skeptics Annotated Bible for all my bible reading needs.

The Gideons have been foisting their bibles onto whoever will take them since 1899 but I don’t think saving souls is one of the mandates of a typical hotel chain. Hotels are on the hook to provide patrons with (hopefully clean) beds and bathrooms, and food that won’t kill them. Anything else is just perks. It’s a holdover from the notion that everyone you were possibly going to meet was going to be a Christian who’d be a bible reader automatically. Can’t say the same of everyone one meets these days, especially in a tourist-heavy place like London. It’s wrong to only provide one kind of reading material as if there were only one kind of person staying at the hotel.

Personally, I’d rather see other books or materials made available that don’t lean toward any religion. Throw some love poetry in the drawer. Supply books by local authors. Maybe something along the lines of “Here’s what’s Haunted” for people who like ghost hunt stuff when they travel. Trivia books maybe. Crossword puzzles or a handful of Pictionary cards and a notepad for drawing on.

Along these lines, I’ve been reading about the U.S. Navy and their hem/haw over keeping bibles available at their lodgings. They had pulled them out due to some complaints but put them back in again because of other complaints. The bibles will be staying in the rooms while “the policy is under review.”

Chaplain (Ret.) Col. Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said. “Our national has a history of religious accommodation for military personnel since before George Washington established the chaplain corps in July 1775. Allowing Bibles in guest quarters is a continuation of our desire to serve those who serve us.”

He then claims there’s nothing to review. The Freedom From Religion Foundation wanted to make the point that the Navy, a government agency, is promoting certain faiths over others. It should be all or nothing, no special treatment given to Christians. Alas, that seems to be a hard idea for some Christian people to wrap their holier-than-thou heads around…

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