Iowa State University to Remove Bibles From Hotel After Atheists Object to 'Unwelcome Propaganda'

Iowa State University will be removing Bibles from its Hotel Memorial Union lodging after the Freedom From Religion Foundation objected to what it called "unwelcome religious propaganda in the bedside table."

"The concern you raised about the availability of Bibles in the guest rooms of the Memorial Union has been taken under advisement and, effective March 1, 2014, the Bibles will be removed from the Hotel rooms," Richard S. Reynolds, director of the union, told FFRF in an email last week.

The FFRF is celebrating the decision as "another victory for secularism on public college campuses."

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The FFRF said it received a complaint about "religious propaganda" from one of its Iowa members.

Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote to Reynolds in a Jan. 29 letter that the Establishment Clause prohibits government entities from promoting, advancing, or otherwise endorsing religion, and that providing a Christian text to guests constitutes an illegal endorsement of Christianity over other religions and non-religion.

"We're delighted to see reason and the Constitution prevailing. We can all sleep easier knowing secularism is being honored at our public universities," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

"Many nonbelievers greatly object to its primitive and dangerous instructions to beat children, kill homosexuals, atheists and infidels, and that it sanctions the subjugation of women, who are scapegoated for bringing sin and death into the world."

Iowa State University student Will Determan disagreed with the reasoning, however, and told WHO-TV: "Personally I don't think they're really forcing anything on anybody."

Freshmen Mark Ivey, who identifies as a Christian, commented, "I'd tell them it's 2014 and there are a lot bigger issues on the table than to complain about a book with 400 pages being in your nightstand."

FFRF scored a similar victory in January when it pressured the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension to remove the Gideon Bibles from guest rooms of one of its conference centers.

"We reviewed the concern raised about the placement of Bibles in our guest rooms and decided to remove them," Bill Mann, director of the Extension Conference Centers, said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post at the time. "We want to make sure all guests are comfortable in our lodging."

Elliot said in a statement that "while private hotels may choose to put any type of literature they want in their guest rooms, state-run colleges have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion." 

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