General Question

babaji's avatar

In Motels across the US that i've stayed at, there was always a Bible in a drawer by the Bed, How did this come to be?

Asked by babaji (1440points) January 16th, 2010

Don’t know if this practice is still done, it was many years ago ,But
when i was a kid, everywhere we stayed there was a bible in the drawer next to the bed…,at “every” motel we stayed at.
Was it a Christian thing to own motels and do the Bible thing?
Or maybe a Christian union that had a contract with the motels?

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53 Answers

Fred931's avatar

They most definitely still do that, and I think it is simply something that the hotel/motel owners believe certain Christians would be thankful for.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

There’s a religious organization called The Gideons that places them.

Sandydog's avatar

The Gideons do this

Trillian's avatar

Rocky Racoon, fell back to his room. Only to find Gideon’s bible. Now that you’ve mentioned it, some crybaby group will start a fuss and want it to be “unconstitutional” or something that ALL religions aren’t included, so if the Gideons want to place a Bible, they’ll also have to place a Torah, a Koran, a Satans….whatever, Book of Mormon, The Tao…...sigh. Bet me.

filmfann's avatar

@Trillian Not as long as Motel’s aren’t government run.

judochop's avatar

They have already started to do this. I stay in a lot of hotels and often times I just find a card with all the options on it.
I personally think it is silly. The Gideon’s are the ones with the presistence, they are the ones who started a really kick ass idea.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have stayed in many hotel rooms here in the UK and found Bibles in the drawer next to the bed. I also found a Qu’ran (sp?) once. I don’t know why they do this but I suppose it doesn’t hurt. The religious can read to their hearts content and the non-religious can ignore.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

This summer I had to do some fieldwork in Utah and Idaho, and in the hotels there they had Mormon bibles instead of the traditional one. It was the first time I had ever seen anything other than the regular bible in a hotel room.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

Might want to be careful with those Bibles. A study (perhaps a decade ago) found that the Bible is the second dirtiest thing in a hotel room (second to the bed topper/quilt) and I don’t mean dirty like real dirt, I mean bacteria and other peoples DNA fluids and such… bleh.

DominicX's avatar

I knew it was the Gideons. It’s definitely still done.

People would hand out Bibles outside of my high school and middle school sometimes. I think I have like 4 of the little Gideons’ Bibles… :)

Qingu's avatar

You know at the beginning of Gideon Bibles how they recommend verses for you to read? Like, “What God says about love,” “What God says about family” etc.

When I stay at hotels, I like to get a pen and recommend my own verses.

What God says about how much you can beat your slaves; What God says about killing unbelievers; etc.

Trillian's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities, when one considers the demographics, this perhaps, is not so surprising. I tried to read the BOM once. I felt that it tried to sound like the bible the way Stranger by the River tried to sound like The Prophet. I may just be a cynic.
As to the Gideons, I can think of worse things to do with ones time. I hope I’m wrong. I’d hate to see something like that stopped because of a bunch of idiots with nothing better to do with their time. When you think about it, the Gideons and their bible efforts are a true American institution. Or are they global? I’ve been in a few hotels in europe, but don’t remember if there were bibles or not….
Now, I’m sure, someone will want to jump in and argue the definition of the word “institution”. Yawn. I hope that most of you will accept my comment in the spirit intended and not want to argue semantics.
Why @Jeruba! Nice to see your comment. Very informative. As usual. ;-)

avvooooooo's avatar

Honestly, I find it more than a little offensive. But that’s me.

Trillian's avatar

@avvooooooo , you find a bible in a drawer offensive?

avvooooooo's avatar

@Trillian I find the attempt to force any kind of religion on anyone, including the provision of potentially unwelcome texts in a place where one does not go to find religion, offensive.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

I know it’s still done. I, in fact, know a guy who actually puts the Bibles in the drawers. But that’s not all he does – he goes to jails and talks to the inmates and alot of other stuff. It’s all part of the Gideons.

Qingu's avatar

@avoooooo, I don’t think it is fair to equate leaving bibles in drawers with “forcing religion.” you don’t have to read the thing. You don’t even have to look at it.

avvooooooo's avatar

@Qingu I do if I need the phone book or anything else that’s in that drawer. In fact, they’re not always found in the nightstand or desk drawer, they’ve sometimes found in the dressers. So yeah… If you open any drawer in a hotel room you run the risk of having to look at it. Religious materials that litter a room are forcing me to deal with them, therefore forcing religion.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I’ve found Gideons in drawers all over the US, Europe, and in Japanese hotels favored by American trade. It doesn’t bother me.

Qingu's avatar

Look, I hate religion with all the satanic power of my cold black heart. But having to look at a book in a room is simply not the same as being “forced” into religion.

Christians are not forced into atheism when they walk into a bookstore advertising the god delusion.

I think it’s extremely important to distinguish between the content of ideas and the way people advertise ideas. In a free society, everyone should be able to advertise ideas. Inevitably this means everone encounters ideas (or books) they disagree with from time to time. But it’s not fair to take offense at the mere fact that someone is promoting something they believe in.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

For the sake of argument, I’m wondering if we would be so passive if the book found in the night table was child pornography. Would we just casually overlook it as one group’s attempt to forward their agenda in a non-aggressive way?

avvooooooo's avatar

@Qingu Having a Bible in a room is having religious propaganda forced on people just the same as if it ends up in their mailbox. Bookstores are different because they sell books. Bibles have a place there as do books on cooking and helping your child learn to poo in the potty. Promoting religion in a place where someone might possibly go in order to encounter religious ideas is fine. Coming into a place where people sleep, and essentially live if only for a night or a few nights, to push your propaganda is inappropriate.

@Espiritus_Corvus has a good point. If it were any other kind of book promoting other things, it would be seen as offensice just as I see Bibles in a hotel room as offensive.

Qingu's avatar

Child porn is illegal. A better example would be Dianetics The Communist Manifesto. Both of which I would be fine with.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The fact that child porn is illegal in some countries has nothing to do with the question. Would you be as passive about child porn literature placed in a drawer by your bed as you are about the other books you mentioned? If so, why?

Qingu's avatar

@avvooooooo, I would agree if your argument if you were distinguishing between public property and private property. Bibles have no place in, for example, public school desks, or university drawers. However, both the bookstore and the hotel are private places. I’m sure there are hotels whose owners don’t want Bibles in them; there are hotels in Utah with books of Mormon in them. Probably in Scientology land they have Dianetics in the drawers and it is completely within their rights.

I also don’t think there is no problem if a Bible ends up in your mailbox. I campaigned for Obama and part of this involved leaving shit on people’s mailboxes and doors. I imagine this was annoying for some people, but that’s it—it’s annoying. It’s not being forced to vote for Obama, it’s not being forced to believe in or even interact with Christianity. Again, part of living in a free society means occasionally encountering ideas that annoy you.

@Espiritus_Corvus, for me, legality has everything to do with it because I am basing my argument on the legal principle of free speech. Child pornography is not protected by the concept of free speech because it is illegal.

Regular porno? Well, there are hotels that probably leave that laying around.

As for being “passive,” I don’t think that’s an accurate description of my behavior when encountering Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. See my previous comment above. :)

Qingu's avatar

I should note that it was actually illegal for us to leave shit “on” or “in” people’s mailboxes because only the post office is legally allowed to do that. So we just left shit on people’s doors or their door knockers. Which was probably even more obnoxious than just putting stuff in their mailbox would have been.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

“I think it’s extremely important to distinguish between the content of ideas and the way people advertise ideas. In a free society, everyone should be able to advertise ideas. Inevitably this means everone encounters ideas (or books) they disagree with from time to time. But it’s not fair to take offense at the mere fact that someone is promoting something they believe in.

Did you leave something out?

Qingu's avatar

I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

You said nothing of legalities in the line ”In a free society, everyone should be able to advertise ideas.” and you said nothing in the paragraph about legalities. So now you’ve qualified your statement to exclude that which is illegal. I believe you left that out.

You said “everyone”. You said nothing of what is legal or illegal. Everyone, I’m sorry to say, includes child pornographers whether legal or not. I’m using child pornography as an example because it is so universally abhorrent, except of course, to child pornographers and their readership. The point is, what is offensive and what is not is subjective to each individual and I suspect that your use of the legal/illegal inclusion to avoid the question and the slippery slope you found yourself quickly approaching. What one person sees as harmless propaganda, another may see as an offensive intrusion into their lives, the same way many people would feel intruded upon if they found child pornography in the drawers of their motel rooms.

Obviously, you don’t think everyone should be able to advertise ideas—just like @avvooooooo

Qingu's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus, you are correct, I did leave that out. There is no such thing as an absolutely free speech society. In ours, there is some content—such as child porn or nuclear secrets—that are illegal. So I should have qualified “ideas that are not considered illegal exceptions to the free speech amendment.”

This isn’t because I think child porn should be illegal. It’s because society has collectively decided, through our representatives in Congress, to put this limit on free speech.

We can debate whether child porn should be excluded from free speech, but that would be rather tangental to the question and another line of argument entirely.

I certainly think limits to free speech should be as narrow as possible. The fact that a few people in society, or even most people, find speech offensive should not be enough to make it illegal. So, no, it is not a slippery slope; I don’t want to outlaw child porn from hotel rooms just because I personally find it offensive (which I do) but rather because society has collectively and through a rigorous legal process declared that it is so offensive that it should be illegal.

Are you suggesting that Bibles should not be distributed in hotel rooms because they should be treated as illegal forms of speech, like child porn? That seems like a bizarre argument to make.

Response moderated
Jeruba's avatar

I am against any kind of imposition of religion on my life, and yet I have no problem with Bibles in a hotel room. I see them as being placed there as a resource, and they trouble me no more than having a directory of local attractions placed there. I don’t think they are forcing anything any more than, if there were a dictionary placed in the room, I would think they were forcing correct spelling and definitions on me.

I think we have greatly misunderstood the notion of “forcing” if we can’t differentiate between having something placed within our reach, where we are free to disregard it, and being actively compelled by coercion of a powerful entity to embrace, adopt, or submit to something.

DominicX's avatar


I agree as well. I don’t believe that having it as a resource is “forcing” anything. People take the concept of “forcing” too lightly and it undermines true “forcing”. A Bible in a motel room isn’t “forcing” anything. Just as a gay couple holding hands in public isn’t “forcing” homosexuality down people’s throats.

Response moderated
Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@Qingu No, not at all. I’m pretty much with you on Free Speech. Narrow as possible and we all have the right to be offended but not to dictate to others. It’s probelmatic, however, like in the case of child porn.

DominicX's avatar


The difference is that child porn harms children. Your freedom ends where another person’s begins. The children have the freedom to not be forced into sexual acts. Hence why such a thing is illegal in the first place.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@DominicX I agree, but the crime of forcing a child to perform in itself is not a freedom of speech issue. The despersion of images and literature that is produced from this criminal act comes under freedom of speech.

DominicX's avatar


Freedom is not granted to it because it stems from a criminal act. Additionally, possession of CP photos is a crime.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Edit: Sorry, I didn’t understand what you meant at first readl There are images and literature all over the place of heinous crimes, photos often taken by the perpetrator, that is not illegal to possess.

Qingu's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus, I really think you should make a new thread if you’re going to argue that child porn should be protected under freedom of speech.

I’m not sure how this line of discussion interacts with this thread. Are you saying that all speech should be protected as free (including child porn)? If that’s the case then you would agree with me that Bibles should be allowed in hotel rooms.

DominicX's avatar


It is in the United States. And I agree with @Qingu in that this is taking the question too far off topic.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I’m not advocating that child porn should be covered under freedom of speech. At all. This started as an example of what one might find in a drawer in a motel room that would make one feel intruded upon. Bibles and books on Dianetics, the BOM, that’s all very easy for most people to not find intrusive. Qingu brought in the freedom of speech issue. I think I’ve made it clear that I think that freedom of speech should be as broad as possible and that we all have the right to be offended. I have not given my opinion of child porn, but in order to dispel any paranoia here, I definitely think it is abhorrent and am comfortable with the fact that it is illegal in most countries. I am truly sorry if this led anyone here to assume anything else.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m sorry, what does “we all have the right to be offended” mean? I don’t recall ever being taught that this was among my rights.

Qingu's avatar

@Jeruba, it’s a corrollary of free speech. Living in a society that has broad free speech means that people have the right to say things that offend you.

To quote from The American President (the movie, not the actual president):

America isn’t easy. America, is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center-stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.” Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

Jeruba's avatar

@Qingu, I found @Espiritus_Corvus‘s comment ambiguous. I couldn’t tell if it meant “we all have the right to take offense (accuse someone of offending us)” or “we all have the right to hear things we don’t like or don’t agree with.”

I understand saying that we have the right to speak in such a way that others might take offense. That’s different from saying that being offended is a right. If I’m not offended, that does not mean I’ve been denied my rights.

rooeytoo's avatar

Just an interesting little aside, the hotel where I worked in DC would often host a very prominent roman catholic cardinal when he came to town. A new bible would always be placed in his suite just prior to his arrival. This was because it was a tradition for the phone numbers of available hookers in the area to be penned in the front of the bible.

LostInParadise's avatar

In the end, like so much else, it comes down to economics. Am I offended by having a Bible in the hotel room? Yeah, a little. Would I be willing to pay more for a Bible-less room? Definitely not. How many others would? Very few I suspect. Even if I were willing to pay a little more, it would not be enough to pay for the effort required by the hotel to offer the option. So expect things to continue as they are.

mattbrowne's avatar

Just out of curiosity, are there copies of the Koran in motels in Muslim countries?

Trillian's avatar

@mattbrowne, That’s a tough one, but I’d be willing to bet that they’re not necessary. I think that most Muslims are so completely integrated, their religion and their day to day lives are completely intertwined. That’s why they get so much more… angry and emotional than we as Americans do. Americans, for the most part, keep religion and personal lives separate. I may not be wording this correctly, so please everybody, don’t jump all over me. The Koran would be a welcome extra if a Muslim had accidentally forgotten or misplaced his. I can almost guarantee that a conversation like this would never take place in their culture.
Food for thought.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Trillian – Do we have a Muslim on Fluther?

Trillian's avatar

I don’t know. I merely speculate from the little I have learned about Islam over the years. Shortly before I left the navy I spoke with an Imam in uniform. He told me that he was one of the first because Islam has individual clerics as opposed to established doctrinal faiths, like Protestant, Catholic, Lutheran, etc. He also told me that a Muslin cannot be separated from his faith, it influnces every shpere of his existence.

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