Wandschneider: Hotel Bibles should not have caused controversy


Miranda Cantrell/Iowa State Daily

Starting March 1, Bibles were removed from hotel rooms in the Memorial Union. Columnist Wandscheider believes that the bibles should not have been removed.

Jamie Wandschneider

Hotels are designed to be homey and comfortable as you rest from your journey from a land afar. There is a surprisingly decent bed, as well as your own bathroom. For those that do not enjoy living out of a suitcase, there is a nice closet and dresser to house your belonging during your stay. Tucked away in a drawer is usually a Bible or some type of religious manuscript for your optional viewing pleasure.

However, starting March 1, all Bibles will be removed from the Memorial Union Hotel due to a complaint from a customer that was filed with The Freedom from Religions Foundation. Instead, they will be housed in the Browsing Library and guests will be able to specify if they would like one in their room. This was the University’s decision in response to the complaint. Where as the University handled the situation very well, the decision should not have had to have been made.

However, Iowa State is not the only university that has had to deal with this. Not too long ago the University of Wisconsin was asked to do the same thing by the same group.

The argument in place comes from the Establishment Clause in our U.S. Constitution. Basically the Establish Clause prevents laws being made that establish a religion. It was created to prohibit the government from creating a national religion and promoting religious organizations. This is why the government does not fund churches and other religious affiliations. With Iowa State being funded by the government, the customer argued that this violates the Establishment Clause.

Which it does not.

The Establishment Clause is to keep laws from being made about establishing a religion. There is no law stating that there must be a Bible in the hotel rooms. There is also no law stating that those that stay in the hotel room must read it. They are voluntary put there by different religious groups, such as the Gideons. Normally, we only hear of Bibles being in hotel rooms, for Christianity is popular in the United States. If Mormonism was the popular religion in our region and they had The Book of Mormon in the hotel rooms, this would still be an issue.

People not of the Christian faith may find the Bible to be offensive to them and are glad to have it removed from their potential sight. It is as simple as not reading it. There is not a flashing sign above the drawer stating “Bible in drawer. You must read.” It is not even out in the open, so unless one physically sees it, it should not offend.

Based on your personality, many different things that you see can offend you. Maybe seeing the Iowa Hawkeye logo is offensive, but you can’t go around and have everything with that logo taken down. It is impossible to do that for every minor thing that is offensive relative to the person.

The group that brought up this issue just so happens to be atheists. It is understandable why they wouldn’t want a religious manuscript in a hotel room, but removing them is almost complying with their belief. Since Christianity and other types of religions go against this groups belief, it can be argued that taking Bibles out of hotel rooms favors that group. Instead of removing other religion’s books, why not propose to have a book on their beliefs, like “The God Delusion,” to be placed in the rooms?

Finally, the religious material is moved to the browsing library in the Memorial Union. The books have not left the building and the library is open to the entire public. In a broader sense, the matter is still a potential issue, for the books are still located on campus. Anyone could go in there and complain about being offended by seeing one of the books.

All in all, Iowa State made a quick decision that compromises both parties. But in the grand scheme of things, this decision should not have had to have been made. The issue was not violating any part of the Constitution. In a world where there are much bigger concerns, religious materials in a university hotel room should not make that list.