Christian Legal Group Urges Public Universities to Restore Bibles to Hotel Rooms

Prayers Over Bible pdSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A prominent Christian legal organization has sent rebuttal letters to two public universities that recently decided to remove all Gideon Bibles from their hotel rooms in response to complaints from an atheist activist organization.

As previously reported, the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University were contacted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) last month after they received anonymous complaints surrounding the Gideon Bibles that are placed in the university hotel rooms.

The organization asserted that the presence of the Bibles at University of Wisconsin’s Lowell Center and Iowa State University’s Memorial Union violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” FFRF also contended that the Bibles signified the promotion of Christianity by a government-0wned university.

“It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a government entity cannot promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion,” one letter stated. “Permitting members of outside religious groups the privilege of placing their religious literature in public university guest rooms constitutes state endorsement and advancement of these Christian publications.”

Both universities responded by advising that they would remove the Bibles from all guest rooms, and Iowa State University said that the copies would be moved to the library beginning in March.

But this week, the Arizona-based Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent letters to both the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University to urge officials to leave the Bibles in place. The letters outlined that FFRF’s reasoning was flawed and not in alignment with legal precedent.

“In reality, the First Amendment does not require you to remove these Bibles, and by removing them, you may have demonstrated the very viewpoint discrimination and hostility towards religion that the First Amendment prohibits,” it wrote. “The Supreme Court and numerous other federal courts have repeatedly condemned efforts to exclude or restrict religious materials and activities as viewpoint or content discrimination, both at universities and elsewhere.”

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“[C]ontrary to what FFRF implied, the Establishment Clause does not require government entities to dissociate themselves from everything religious,” the letters continued. “Indeed, the Supreme Court has repeatedly made it clear that the Constitution does not ‘require complete separation of church and state.’ Rather, it ‘affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.'”

ADF then warned that the universities, in heeding the advice of FFRF, could now be held liable for unlawful religious discrimination by generally allowing materials in hotel rooms while censoring anything of a religious viewpoint.

“[B]y succumbing to FFRF’s demands, you may have exposed yourself … to potential liability. Presumably, your guest rooms include a variety of printed materials, including magazines, phone books, and information about the campus and guest facility,” it explained. “By removing the Bibles because they are religious, you may have engaged in viewpoint discrimination, which is ‘an egregious form of content discrimination’ and a ‘blatant’ violation of the First Amendment.”

ADF urged both universities to restore the Bibles to the rooms lest they continue violating the Constitution.

It remains to be seen how officials at University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University will respond.

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  • A. Bond

    I what to thank these two legal organizations for there stand, I believe that its past time that true believers in Christ make the stands we are supposed to for our blood bought right to let people know about what Christ did for them, nobody is forcing people to read the Bibles they are there if someone wants to read them, and trying to demand that they are taken out is DISCRIMINATION against we as Christ’s followers. Just because some people don’t believe in Christ should not give them a right to possible hinder someone from learning what Jesus Christ did for them a trusting in Him for salvation. Just because I believed that if I try to drive a car with my eyes shut I wouldn’t wreck don’t make it true, the TRUTH is I will wreck at some point if I keep driving.

  • Naz Naz

    How many people would be up in arms if we were removing the Koran?

  • Wayne Robinson

    What right does a third party have to place material in a location it doesn’t own?

    Answer – none. The entity owning or managing the location has the right to remove any material not approved in advance (with obvious exceptions, such as a parking inspector placing a parking infringement notice on your windscreen).

    The Gideon Society doesn’t have the right to place copies of the Bible in college accommodation. If it did, then Islamic societies would be equally entitled to place copies of the Koran in college accommodation. And the Church of Scientology would be entitled to do the same with their literature.

    If you’re travelling and want to read the Bible in your hotel, then bring your own copy! I always travel with two copies myself.

    • James J. Grimes

      The Gideons have every right o place Bibles in motel rooms when they have received permission to do so.