I learned today of a major hotel contacting a local Gideons group, asking them to pick up all the Bibles placed in their rooms. They said it was no longer their policy to keep religious materials in their facility.
That's their prerogative, of course. Hoteliers are under no obligation to stock freely-accessible Bibles in their rooms. (Or $5.00 waters in their mini-fridges, for that matter.)
Nonetheless, it strikes me as a strange decision. The hotel is a privately-held company; there are no Church-State issues involved. And the Bibles are tucked away in drawers; nobody is forced to read them. (Though I have read of one-time atheists who came to faith in Christ as the result of reading a Gideon Bible in a hotel room one night.)
I suppose some might be offended by the presence of a Bible in the top drawer of their bedside stand and that this is what the hotelier is reacting to.
It just underscores the fact that we are living in an increasingly intolerant culture--much of that intolerance incited by so-called Christians bullying rather than loving their neighbors--and that, if Christians want to see Jesus' great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) fulfilled, we cannot rely on others to fulfill it. (We never should have relied on anyone else to do it anyway!) We must prayerfully prepare for opportunities to share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ by building loving relationships with those who don't yet know or believe in Him. As a former atheist myself, I can tell you that it was people who were prepared to tell me about the hope they had in Christ who opened me up to knowing Jesus and appreciating the Word of witness about Him we read in the Bible.
(By the way, the Gideons are preparing to distribute the Bibles they've collected from the hotel in other ways. So, Gideon checked out, but he's going no doubt, to find a place for his Bible.)
[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]
Speaking of Gideon Bibles, this seems like a good place for the Beatles' Rocky Racoon.]