A U.K. hotel chain is under fire for removing Bibles from all of its hotel rooms, but a representative for the company told TheBlaze Tuesday that there are some important details about the story that must be clarified.
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After the Daily Mail, among other outlets, reported that Bibles have been removed from Travelodge's hotels in an effort to "avoid upsetting non-Christians," the company is responding by noting that the axing of the holy books was a years-old decision and not a new change as some have apparently been led to believe.
The representative also told TheBlaze that the Bibles, which were apparently donated by Gideons International, have not been removed from hotels entirely.
In fact, the spokeswoman said that the decision to take the books out of rooms was made in 2007, though she claimed that the Bibles are still available at hotel reception desks.
"All of the 500 [hotels] do have the Bibles in the hotels so anyone can take them at any time," she explained. "We've not removing them from the hotels by any means."
Despite these claims, the Daily Mail noted that one branch of the hotel in London didn't have any Bibles on hand recently when a request was made at the reception desk. A staffer, who apparently said he couldn't find any copies of the book, reportedly suggested that the individual asking for the Bible use the Internet to read the holy book.
Travelodge later corroborated details surrounding the removal in a statement emailed to TheBlaze.
"Travelodge made the decision to move copies of the Bible from its hotel rooms and place them at reception for customers to borrow in 2007. This decision was based on customer research and the fact that we live in a multicultural society," the statement read. "Therefore in order not to discriminate against any religion, customers who would like a Bible can pick a copy from any one of Travelodge’s 500 hotel reception desks across the country, whilst staying at the hotel."
Reaction to the removals has differed across the board.
A Church of England spokesman decried the decision as "both tragic and bizarre," and Dr. Tim Stanley, a historian, penned an op-ed over the weekend in the Telegraph lambasting the removal as "an act of cultural vandalism upon a tradition that goes back 126 years."
In an update to his post after it was published, Stanley also commented on Travelodge's contention after the story broke that the policy isn't new and has been on the books since 2007, claiming that it does little to help the company's case.
"It was a dumb idea to remove the Bibles seven years ago and a dumb idea to do it now," he wrote.
That said, other faith leaders like Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St. Mary's Cathedral in Scotland, seem supportive of — or at least not frustrated by — the decision.
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"I like to encourage people to read the [B]ible. ... However, I don’t feel inclined to lament Travelodge’s decision," he wrote on his blog recently. "Indeed, I’m surprised it has taken them so long. I think they’ve probably made a choice that was inevitable."
TheBlaze is awaiting response from Travelodge to learn more about how customers are reacting to news of the removal of Bibles from rooms at the hotel chain's 500 locations.
This isn't the first time drama has surrounded a U.K. hotel chain's decision to remove Bibles from night tables. Consider that the Damson Dene Hotel replaced copies of the Bible with the controversial "Fifty Shades of Grey" book back in 2012.
(H/T: Charisma News)
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