Debate Magazine

Hotel Bibles: A Solution

By Carnun @Carnunmp

Hotel Bibles: A Solution

Recognise the scene? Blame The Gideons International and other such misguided evangelical organisations.

Their aim is simple. It’s all about world-wide Bible distribution.

To quote them (emphasis added, obviously):

“The mission of The Gideons International is to win the lost for Christ, and our unique method is the distribution of Bibles and New Testaments in selected streams of life.  –

They’re everywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a Hotel/B&B (though I haven’t stayed in very many) without an unwanted, not necessarily necessary Bible handy. It’s a boring pattern.

But, of course, the pattern isn’t an issue of religious privilege (as far as I know), it’s an issue of my personal annoyance at the resources/power so many religious organisations, like Gideons, have at their disposal simply through the default donations of (at risk of an unashamedly blithe disregard for numerous nuances) ‘I go because my parents go’ church-goers. In the marketplace of ideas, such blatantly ridiculous hypotheses – i.e. Christianity – just wouldn’t survive to anywhere near the monopolising level they do without the exploitation of some of the most well-intentioned, gullible members of society keeping them afloat – and practically all forms of desperate, insistent, donation-driven (and often predatory, especially abroad) evangelism are a perfect show of this. Hotel Bibles included.

So, rant aside, what is the ‘solution’?

I’ll start with what it isn’t:

  1. Burning them. Burning a book (unless you happen to need to do so in order to survive, of course) is just plain silly. Aside from being literally the laziest, most infantile way to address an idea one doesn’t like, book-burning is pointless. As a gesture, all burning does is fruitlessly anger ‘the other side’. The words are immortal. No-one wins.
  2. Finding the money to produce and distribute, like Gideons, some sort of book of ‘our own’ internationally. It’d just be too expensive and hard to organize – especially since I’m not too sure fairy stories/the false pretense of universe-saving super-charity would hold as much sway with our potential donors… And what one book, exactly?

The way to go about it, is as follows.

In a world (one would hope) of free expression, the best and only way to fight an idea is to offset it with another. Fight fire with fire. Don’t like what someone thinks? Tell them, and explain why. Speak up.

Back to the ‘marketplace of ideas’ analogy, we need to make a more public pitch. (Not that we currently aren’t making a ‘pitch’ of sorts, it’s just that – with regards to the Hotel niche – Christianity seems to be one of the only hypotheses with a finger in the pie.)

This ‘pitch’ (yes, the metaphor’s dragging out a bit now) has to be short, memorable, and to-the-point – so I see two options:


An idea: mass-produced humanistic bookmarks (for BHA members to innocently slip into hotel Bibles). Huh? Huh? @BHAhumanists @andrewcopson

Carnun Marcus-Page (@CarnunMP) September 12, 2013

(Optimally cheaply ‘mass-produced’, might I add.)

Or, something along the lines of actions like this  – a short humanistic scribbling on the inside cover of a Hotel Bible:

@CarnunMP I've started with the inside cover:

Sparkle Wildfire (@SparkleWildfire) September 12, 2013


  • Think for themselves about what is right & wrong, based on reason & respect for others.
  • Find meaning, beauty, & joy in the one life we have, without the need for an afterlife.
  • Look to science instead of religion as the best way to discover & understand the world.
  • Believe people can use empathy and compassion to make the world a better place for everyone.

If this sounds better to you than the fiction in this book,“

The only problem with the second option, while it IS brilliant, is that it may well be considered, by ‘you know who(s)’, as direct vandalism of something ‘sacred’ (as silly as that is/may seem). Bookmarks, I feel, work around this problem by appearing a whole lot more subtle (pro) – but people can obviously remove them (con).

I’d also like to point out, before someone else does, that the option of writing something on a piece of paper and leaving it in/alongside/attached to the Holy Bibbley is obviously there too (if you’re out of amazing bookmarks and are a tad ‘page-by-page annotation’-shy, say).

The point is, there are straightforward ways to vent the rambly comic-anger I assume you all share with me regarding Hotel Bibles, and so we, as a rough group, should take advantage of them at every opportunity.

[Edit: Oh, and, uh, something's just occurred to me: Hospital Bibles are even more infuriating... So there's that as well. Great.]

Carnun. :P

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