Guests staying at the Iowa State University’s Hotel Memorial Union will soon notice something missing from their hotel rooms. Starting March 1, the Bibles that have traditionally been placed in nightstands will be permanently pulled from every room.
The decision to remove the Bibles comes after a guest reportedly complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a church-state separatist group, decrying the Bibles as “unwelcome religious propaganda in the bedside table.”
The atheist activist group argued that the hotel, which is part of Iowa’s public university system, was unconstitutionally endorsing Christianity by placing Bibles and not other religious texts in each of its 52 rooms, WHO-TV reported.
Hotel Memorial Union will now make the books available in its downstairs library and reading room.
In a letter sent late last month from Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Patrick Elliot to Richard S. Reynolds, director of the Memorial Union, the atheist group asked that the Bibles be banned.
“It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a government entity cannot in any way promote, advance, or otherwise endorse religion,” Elliot wrote. “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 nonreligion.”
Reynolds complied and the organization has since praised the decision.
“We’re delighted to see reason and the Constitution prevailing,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “We can all sleep easier knowing secularism is being honored at our public universities.”
Last month, The University of Wisconsin-Extension, the outreach arm of the state’s public university system, also complied with the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s demands to end the tradition of placing Bibles in guest rooms at a campus conference center.
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