ABERYSTWYTH, U.K. — Students at the University of Aberystwyth in the U.K. are seeking the removal of Gideon Bibles from their dorm rooms as the presence of the Scriptures allegedly makes them feel “uncomfortable.”
According to reports, a poll conducted by the student union revealed that 50 percent of respondents said the Bibles make them feel “uncomfortable” or that they considered them to be “inappropriate.” Only four percent of students who participated in the poll said that they supported the presence of the Bibles.
“The inclusion of Bibles in university bedrooms is inappropriate in a multicultural university such as Aberystwyth,” student John Morgan stated during a student council meeting last month. “It could be offensive for some, and the university should provide a safe space for students to explore and develop their beliefs in a neutral environment.”
He said, however, that he believed Bibles should still be available for students who want one, and suggested that future applications allow students to indicate whether or not they would like a Bible in their room.
The Christian Institute, a UK-based legal organization, told reporters that students are overreacting over simply having a Bible placed in a drawer or other location.
“It is hard to imagine how a person could actually be offended by a Bible simply being in their room,” a spokesperson stated. “Banning the Bible because some people might be uncomfortable with it would be a huge overreaction.”
James Catford, a former student and now Group Chief Executive of the Bible Society, said that if students are seeking to be more diverse, removing the Bibles is not the answer.
“The answer to a diverse and multicultural society is not to remove all traces of diversity. That seems illiberal and intolerant,” he told the Daily Mail. “As a graduate of the university, I would challenge those who are voting to spend some time with Luke’s gospel, for example, so they can make an informed decision.”
A proposal to have the Bibles removed is expected to be submitted later this month.
Last year, the hotel chain Travelodge pulled the Gideon Bibles from all its rooms, likewise citing concerns over multiculturalism.
“The reason is because of diversity. With the country being increasingly multicultural, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to just have the Bible,” the company told reporters. “People were also taking Bibles away and with the redesign of the rooms, it was felt that it would be better to remove them.”
Gideon’s International was founded in 1899 in Janesville, Wisconsin, and first began distributing Bibles in 1908.
Photo: Steve F