Is the Bible still welcome in hotels?

The Gideon Bible is a more than 100-year-old tradition. (The Gideon Bible sits in a hotel nightstand)

If you want to start a controversy, just mention politics or religion.

Donald Trump.

See what I did there? You most definitely had a visceral reaction right there, and probably a very strong opinion.

But what’s really surprising is that when I started questioning people as to whether a bible should or should not be in a hotel room, people weren’t as up in arms as I expected.

In the article I wrote last week entitled “Bibles, bed scarves and other things many guests don’t care about,” I asked readers to share what they thought.

And honestly, I was ready for a good old flogging. Especially because we live in an era of heightened sensitivity about pretty much everything and I expected certain readers to demand a "safe space" from my questions.  

Perhaps I have been spending too much time in the word warzone known as Facebook. But the feedback I got via email and through social media channels was essentially a resounding “meh.”

First, an interesting factoid: According to the Pew Research Center, since 2007 the number of those who identify as Christian has dropped 7.8 percent while people who identify with other religions has increased 1.2 percent. And those that no longer affiliate with a religion jumped 6.7 percent in the same time period.

Wow! Seriously, with rising anti-religious sentiment here in the United States, combined with a more diverse and minority-infused population, as well as myriad Hindu and Muslim hotel owners, I expected a strong negative reaction to this 100+ year old tradition.

Not so much. Rather, I was given an interesting and varied perspective.

What You Think

Chris Myer, VP of marketing with Myer Hotels, said he is happy to provide Gideon Bibles. “Not only do we have them, we put them out in the room with a prayer card on top of them and people love it! They are tired of political correctness and the attempt to remove God from our Christian-founded nation. It is a breath of fresh air to many who are happy to see we care enough to do it,” he wrote.  

Steve McGaha, GM, MCM Elegante Hotel, Beaumont Texas, said he has many religious hotel guests that monopolize the hotel’s shuttle bus to attend church on Sundays. His hotel directory lists 60 of them.

But Bibles, he said, while appreciated, aren’t often used.

“Bibles are hardly ever used by our guests. However, in Texas, and I imagine the other fly-over states, if they were removed the media backlash would far outweigh them being present, especially since they are a no-cost amenity,” he wrote, noting the hotel also makes the Koran available to those inquiring at the front desk.

Meanwhile, hotel owner Rachel Bauer chose to not have Bibles in her guestrooms. When she purchased a downtrodden boutique hotel in 2011, she deliberately made a point to turn away the Gideons.

“I diverted the Gideons every time they called to refresh our stock of Bibles. They were pushy about it, I pushed back. I think the era of Bibles in nightstands has long passed. Our country needs to embrace the diversity it was built on and I think hoteliers are wise to let this old tradition go. Opening a drawer to find a Bible is simply a reminder that the housekeeping staff has likely not removed in in months to properly clean the inside of that drawer let along wipe down the Bible itself,” Bauer wrote.

So my hunch, the Bible is here to stay. As long as the Gideons keep freely distributing them.

Email me at [email protected] or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn and let’s work together on making a serious difference here to improve our travel life, and your profits.

Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.