Last week, Christianity suffered its greatest defeat since the Fall of Constantinople. It didn’t make the front pages - what do you expect of the atheist liberal media - but it was right there in the Religion section, assuming your godless newspaper still even has one. It wasn’t the War on Christmas. Bill O’Reilly declared victory in that struggle earlier this holiday season. No, this is an attack on the fundamental pillar of faith itself: the Holy Bible.
Two lines of the vast Marriott Hotel organization will no longer place Gideon Bibles in their nightstands.
Marriott used to be such a good Christian (OK, Mormon) company. JW Marriott started out with a root beer stand; his son Bill commanded a hotel and motel empire. Since the early days of chain hotels and motels, traveling salesmen were the most faithful customers. From the turn of the twentieth century, Gideons International. a Christian evangelical group, has tried to meet the perceived spiritual needs of men far from home by placing a Bible within easy reach. The Gideons used to distribute New Testaments to school kids. And everyone has seen their Bibles in hotel rooms.
Like complementary shampoo, Scripture was just another service. As recently as twenty years ago, Anne Curtis, communications director for Choice Hotels in Silver Spring, Maryland (a Marriott brand), said tradition has created an innate demand for the Bible in its 3,000 U.S. hotels.
"People check into a hotel and expect to find a Bible, and not just a Bible but a Gideon Bible," Curtis said. "We are in the business of providing rooms; the Bible is a nice extra."
But the Marriott family no longer runs the chain. The CEO is now Arne Sorenson, a registered Democrat who favors LGBT civil rights and openly opposed North Carolina’s disastrous transgender bathroom bill. And now he’s taking the Bibles out of bedside table.
In fact, Sorenson, child of Christian missionaries, is a Christian of the old-fashioned sort, the kind who paid attention when Jesus warned about public displays of piety. It’s been getting harder to find a hotel room that has any holy scripture in the nightstand. They used to be universal - Bibles, Books of Mormon in the Marriott chain, the Teachings of the Buddha in the Nikko chain, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in places where Christian Science had influence, even a Scientology tract by L. Ron Hubbard. Now you can’t find a religious book in more than half of American hotels and motels.
It’s not a sneaky plot to secularize America. The vast majority of religious texts are never touched. Why would you bother? If a guest wanted the Bible, or the Buddha, or the Bhagavad-Gita, they’re as far away as the smart phone in their pocket or the tablet in their carry-on luggage.
Five years ago, the Marriott chain eliminated adult movies from its in-room service offerings. Religious groups tried to take credit, but Marriott made it clear that the decision was based on economics and technology. More guests access adult content on their mobile devices rather than pay for premium adult channels.
The things we now expect in a hotel is quiet, a comfortable bed, and good WiFi. If we need religion or porn, we all know where to find it.