Officials at a public university in Arizona recently agreed to remove Gideon Bibles from the school’s hotel rooms following a complaint from a prominent professing atheist organization.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter earlier this year to the CEO of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, which is part of Arizona State University. It said that an employee, who remained unidentified, had contacted FFRF to express their objection to the presence of the Bibles at Thunderbird Executive Inn.
FFRF also asserted that the Bibles violate the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
“If a state-run university has a policy of providing a Christian religious text to guests, that policy facilitates illegal endorsement of Christianity over other religions and over non-religion,” the letter, written by attorney Madeline Ziegler, read. “Permitting members of outside religious groups the privilege of placing their religious literature in public university guest rooms also constitutes state endorsement and advancement of religion.”
“Providing Bibles to inn guests sends the message that ASU endorses the religious texts,” it asserted. “It sends the message to non-Christian and non-religious guests that the university expects they should read the Bible, and specifically the version of the Bible provided; the Gideon Bible.”
The correspondence also contended that “[r]egardless of whether the Bibles were donated by a private party, the placement of a holy book in guest rooms for guests to read demonstrates government endorsement of a religious message.”
FFRF consequently requested that the Bibles be removed from Thunderbird Executive Inn.
On July 19, CEO Allen Morrison provided notice to FFRF that he had instructed staff to remove of the Gideon Bibles from rooms.
“I have … requested that religious materials be removed from the inn’s guest rooms,” he wrote in the brief correspondence. “I trust that resolves your concerns.”
FFRF, which announced the development on Tuesday, applauded the outcome.
“Anyone zealous enough to need the Bible as bedtime reading will travel with one,” said Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor in a statement. “The rest of us paying guests seek a vacation from proselytizing when we’re on vacation. What is offensive at private hotels and motels, however, becomes unconstitutional at public-supported rooms.” Continue Reading