Picture America: Bibles in hotel rooms

So far, I haven’t been in any hotel or motel room in the U.S. that doesn’t have a copy of the Bible placed near the bed.

A Bible near my bed in a motel room (2011)

Gideons International is an evangelical Christian organization dedicated to distributing copies of the Bible in over 94 languages and 194 countries of the world, most famously in hotel and motel rooms. The organization was founded in 1899 in Janesville, Wisconsin, as an early American organization dedicated to Christian evangelism. It began distributing free Bibles, the work for which it is chiefly known, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. [Wiki]

Do people ever read the Bibles in their hotel rooms?
Yes! Each Bible placed in a hotel room has the potential to reach up to 2,300 people in its estimated six-year life span. Research from the hotel industry tells us that approximately 25% of travelers read the Bibles in their hotel rooms. [The Gideon Inernationals]

I am not sure if it is a good idea to place Bibles in hotel or motel rooms. When I worked as a hotel housekeeper many times I find the bible thrown on the floor or given to a child to doodle on it. On YouTube there are videos of people playing with the Bible, throwing it at each other. But really if you like a book you don’t want it to be in a hotel room especially if you believe this book is holy. Why place a holy book in a room that you KNOW is going to be used, sometimes, to commit adultery and other sinful acts?

A Muslim group in Chicago came to our mosque last year to collect donations to place copies of the translated Quran in hotels. I was shocked as many other Muslims. I don’t think it is a good idea.

13 thoughts on “Picture America: Bibles in hotel rooms

  1. I never thought of it from this point of view :$ u r totally right

    I was thinking that if u put such books a lot of people will feel curios to read and know more about the subject.

    1. Maybe because I have seen how some people vandalize books I don’t like the idea of placing an English translation of Quran in hotel rooms.

  2. I have never yet been in a hotel room in the Middle East that doesn’t have a Quran in the bedside drawer – and I am sure all of your concerns about the Bible are just as applicable here. Perhaps the people who place Bibles or Qurans assume that the risks is worth the price of serving a need. ?

    1. Hello Emi- Glad to to read your comments and feedback once again. Long time no see🙂 I hope this means we will start reading your new posts soon.
      I didn’t know that hotels in the Middle East place Quran in rooms as well. I think this is a new thing. I am not sure what Arab countries do this though. You are right placing Arabic Quran in hotel rooms makes things even worse. Muslims believe the Quran to be the words of Allah. Any other translation of the Quran is not treated by Muslims as a holy scripture. Therefore, I am against placing Quran in hotel rooms and especially the Arabic ones. I see no reason whatsoever for doing it and I don’t think it serves any purpose.
      My argument whether placing Bibles in hotel rooms bring more people to Christianity or not would not be valid since I don’t have numbers to support my claim. But my concern is that I feel hotel rooms are not the place to promote one’s believe.
      Thanks for telling me about the Middle East hotel rooms. Now, I have to read about it and see who place these Qurans.

      1. Hello Jaraad! Too busy traveling these days, actually, for much blogging.

        But I just got back from a trip to Riyadh in Jeddah. I found that the Holiday Inn Olaya Riyadh AND the Jeddah Marriott have Qurans in the bedside drawers.

        Also in Dubai and Abu Dubai, as well as Alexandria, Egypt.

        I figure if the Saudis allow this, there must be some pragmatic reasoning. After all, if you knew that a non-Muslim were potentially interested in conversion, would you not put a Quran in his or her hands? Even if there was an unknown, such as their understanding of the reverence of the text (or that they may not be able to convey this to family or friends who may treat the text disrespectfully)? I believe that Christians would make the same argument – the benefits outweigh the risks to them.

    1. Today, I found out that we have the same thing in the Middle East. I am against placing Quran in hotel rooms. Please read my reply to Emi. Thanks for your comment.

  3. I can’t imagine that many people, even if they don’t out right disrespect or mistreat the Bibles use them in their intended way. I know there’re stories out there of people who were despairing, etc. and picked up the Bible in their hotel room and were saved/uplifted/what have you but I tend to look at those as exceptions to the rule and (maybe) a little fudged for impact. For the most part I think people do exactly the same thing I always do when I’m in a hotel: if I need the drawer the Bible is in I move the Bible and then forget that it’s there. I’ve certainly never picked it up because I was bored and needed something to read or the sight of the Bible made me curious.

    It’s one of those situations where I applaud the groups dedication to their cause even as I think that it’s not accomplishing what they want it to. Like the missionaries that come around to my house every so often. I appreciate their dedication if not their actual actions.

    I’ve never been to the Middle East so I can’t comment of putting Qurans in the hotels over there but it strikes me as a really terrible idea to do in the States at least. If you’re lucky most people would ignore them like they do the Bibles but I think that there would be even more instances of people doing terrible things to the Qurans than there are to the Bible.

    But really if you like a book you don’t want it to be in a hotel room especially if you believe this book is holy. Why place a holy book in a room that you KNOW is going to be used, sometimes, to commit adultery and other sinful acts?

    This is, in my opinion, a matter of the difference between the way the Bible is viewed by Christians and the way the Quran is viewed by Muslims. Keeping in mind that all of this is written from my understanding of both perspectives and I reserve the right to be wrong. The best comparison I can come up with is that the way Muslims view the Quran, as the actual, literal word of God and treat it as Holy is more like the way Catholics (and other high church Christians) treat the Eucharist once it’s believed to have become the Body and Blood of Christ or a relic from a Saint. It’s intrinsically sacred and set apart and you’re meant to treat it with reverence as a part of God or a fragment of God’s holiness on earth. But the Bible itself is just a book. It’s not the word for word ‘Word’ of God, it’s just a book written by men that were inspired by God.

    Students (at least at the Sunday school that I went to and the Christian middle school I attended) are encouraged to write in their Bibles, to highlight and make notes and essentially treat it the same way they would treat any other book. It reminds me of what we were expected to do to the books we studied in my AP English classes in high school. (Which killed me anyway, I have a *really* hard time writing in my books. It *always* seems sacrilegious to write in a book to me…but I’m odd…) I know people who have thrown out old Bibles when they get too damaged, just tossed them in the recycling (technically, as I was taught, you’re supposed to burn them). The attitudes are just completely different, from what I can see. The Quran is viewed as a Holy book while the Bible is a holy book, if that makes any sense.

    And now I’ve rambled enough. *vanishes into the night, even though it’s the middle of the day*

    1. Amber – Thank you very much for this interesting feedback. As a matter of fact it is only recently that I found an answer to a long time question I had about how Christians view the Bible. Not long ago, I became aware that Christians call a book the Bible regardless of what language it is written in and regardless of its interpretation. I always wanted to know why Christians have so many versions of the Bible. I think this point explains it very well to me.
      And as you mentioned Muslims and Christians view their holy book differently. Muslims only consider the Arabic version to be Allah’s words.
      I do agree with you that disrespecting the Bible in hotel rooms is the exception not the norm of course. The way I look at it though in case of placing Quran in hotels is one too many. But as Emi mentioned some people take the risk for a greater purpose.

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