Angry Atheists Demand Hotels Ban the Bible Comparing Scripture to Danger of Smoking


The radical anti-Christian Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has launched a crusade to ban the Bible in hotel rooms.

It all began when FFRF founder and co-presidents stayed in a university owned hotel room at Northern Illinois University (NIU).  They were shocked to find a copy of the Bible – placed by the Gideons – in their hotel room.  Calling the Holy Scriptures “obnoxious,” FFRF sent NIU a demand letter claiming the presence of the Bible was “inappropriate and unconstitutional.”


Even more absurdly, NIU quickly caved, removing all Bibles from their hotel rooms.  FFRF has reportedly convinced the University of Wisconsin and the University of Iowa to do the same.

Now FFRF is moving beyond public university hotel rooms and demanding that all hotels remove the Bible from bedside tables.

In fact, FFRF is comparing the Bible to the health and safety dangers of smoking.

FFRF actually says that the Bible “may endanger your health and life” and is encouraging the placement of a skull and crossbones warning label on the Bible.  It states, “we consider it an important consumer complaint, much like asking for smoke-free rooms.” That’s right, the Bible, sitting in a bedside drawer, poses a public safety hazard.

As part of its “Bible Free Room” campaign, FFRF’s co-president, Dan Barker, has some helpful suggestions on ways to deface and desecrate the Holy Bible, which it calls “offending books”:

I know of some guests who put it out in the hallway. Some take it home. Others throw it in the trash. Some place opposing literature in the books. August Berkshire of Minnesota Atheists crosses out “In the beginning” and replaces it with “Once upon a time.” I know of one guest who regularly “accidentally” drops it into the bathwater (or other available water).


But desecrating the Bible (or just simply ignoring it and letting it rest undisturbed in the bedside table drawer) isn’t good enough for FFRF.  They want it banned.

At the ACLJ, we’re taking action, sending the universities that have come under attack a legal letter, explaining the legal fallacies of FFRF’s dubious constitutional claims.  The Bible simply isn’t a constitutional crisis, and even public universities are free to allow groups like the Gideons to place Bibles in hotel rooms.  It’s called free speech, and it is protected by the Constitution.

As we’ve explained before:

FFRF claims the Bible should be banned because they find it “obnoxious.”  Yet, in reality, the Supreme Court has stated just the opposite.  It has held that adults should be able to withstand “speech they find disagreeable,” without imagining that the Establishment Clause is violated every time they “experience a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views.” By extension, requiring the elimination of Bibles in hotel rooms owned by public universities would, as the court has found in other contexts, “lead the law to exhibit a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions.”

There is no coercion. There is no proselytizing happening here. Instead, it’s once again clear that those holding themselves out to be freethinkers are threatening smaller institutions with constitutional claims that would fall flat in court. FFRF is in the business of making threats because they know that any time they go to court, they always lose.


When it comes to FFRF’s attempt to have Bibles banned from all private hotels, even this outlandish atheist group acknowledges that “this is not a state-church issue.”  For once they are legally right about something.

But even outside of the legal realm their attacks are nonsensical.  Barker recently wrote Hilton hotels complaining about finding a Bible in his room, going on a nearly incomprehensible rant:

That book calls me a corrupt and filthy fool (Psalm 14). Do you agree with that? Your “family” hotel is endorsing hatred of family (Matthew 10:34-37) and dashing babies against rocks (Psalm 137:9). It is a violent fiction about a bloodthirsty, genocidal, filicidal pestilential, petty, vindictive, ethnic-cleanser war-god who ordered the execution of nonbelievers like me (John 15:6, 2 Chron. 15:13, Deut. 13:12-16) and whose jealous anger is only appeased by shedding blood on an altar or a cross.

After that bizarro raving – clearly he does not understand the Bible, the love of Christ, or its plan of redemption – he was further angered by Hilton’s commonsense response, “I have noted in your profile for your next stay to remove the Bible from your room.”

Again, removing the Bible from his room is not good enough.  This anti-Christian organization will not be satisfied until every Bible is banned from every hotel in America – and even then I’m sure they’ll find a new place to hate.


Claiming to be “freethinking,” FFRF is as close-minded as ever.  If you’d like to be a part of our reasoned, legal response, and urge these public hotels not to ban the Bible, you can join our legal letter here.  It’s about time they hear from some rational Americans.

Matthew Clark is Senior Counsel for Digital Advocacy with the ACLJ. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.


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