Keep your Bible; I want Wikipedia in my hotel room

Anyone who has succumbed to boredom in a hotel room, and begun exploring the drawers and cupboards will have almost certainly stumbled across a religious text (in Western nations, usually a copy of the King James Bible, courtesy of the Gideons). I don’t like having a Bible in my hotel room, and usually take steps to remove it. These steps range from simply opening the door and throwing the book out into the corridor to leaving it at the front desk when I head out for dinner. Some may think this an over-reaction. If I don’t like the Bible, why don’t I just ignore it? Let me explain why I object to this surreptitious planting of scripture in my temporary place of sleep.

Note, lest I be accused of singling out Christianity, that the following arguments also apply if it is a copy of the Torah, Quran or any other holy book that is in the hotel room. I refer to the Bible, purely because I am more familiar with it, and this is the text that I have always encountered in hotels so far.

1. Crimes against humanity

My first objection is based on the fact that the so-called ‘good book’ carries accounts of a surprisingly high number of evil and hateful acts committed either in the name of, or under the direct orders of, some supreme being. The Bible not only glorifies, but also endorses and encourages the following horrific acts (with an example of each in brackets):

  • blood sacrifice (Leviticus 3:2),
  • human sacrifice (Genesis 22:2),
  • genocide (Numbers 31:17),
  • murder (Exodus 32:271),
  • war-mongering (Matthew 10:342),
  • slavery (Leviticus 25:44-46),
  • sexism (Exodus 20:173),
  • homophobia (Leviticus 20:13),
  • religious intolerance (2 Chronicles 15:13),
  • incest (Genesis 19:33),
  • rape (Genesis 19:8),
  • child abuse (Numbers 31:18),

to name but a few4. Worse still, this book has been used to justify countless incidences of those same acts for at least the last sixteen hundred years. I think this should be reason enough to insist that this source of much human pain and suffering be removed from my hotel room, at least for the duration of my stay.

Just one example of the Bible’s “instruction”, “direction” and “guidance” – the massacre of the Midianites (Numbers 31:17-18).

2. Right to freedom from religion

I object to any and all unsolicited intrusions of religion into my life. I do not believe in anything supernatural. I reject and am repelled by religion. I should be free to live a life without religion if I choose to. Consenting adults can believe whatever they like, but they have no right to try to impose it on others. Leaving a Bible in a hotel room could be seen as such an imposition.

3. Waste of paper

I acknowledge that the Bible may not be there as a sneaky attempt to force another person’s religion on me, but if it’s there in case another guest has forgotten theirs, then why not just keep a few copies (half a dozen is probably plenty) behind the front desk? One copy per room is a massive waste of paper (about 80 million were distributed by the Gideons in 2011). This ‘forgotten Bible’ idea brings me neatly to my final objection.

4. Assumption of universal belief

I take exception to the implicit assumption in placing a copy of the Bible in the rooms that all guests who stay in the hotel will be Christian. It should be immediately apparent to anyone that this is false. If you’re going to place a book in every room, make it something that will be useful to as many people as possible. Otherwise there’s no justification for doing it. I suggest stocking a dictionary.

What I’d love to see would be an iPad, or other touchscreen device, in hotel rooms providing free access to Wikipedia. Even if that was all it did, that would be fantastic. I’d much rather have that version of the truth in my hotel room. Admittedly, providing an iPad would be very expensive, and many people already own mobile devices with internet browsers (laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone). So instead, just give us free internet access in hotel rooms. And don’t make us register for it. I shouldn’t need to spend ages giving out personal details and trying to find out what you need them for just to check my e-mail. True, some hotels already offer free internet access, but these tend to be expensive hotels. I have yet to stay in an ‘affordable’ hotel with free wi-fi.

So in conclusion, I repeat the title of this post: Keep your Bible; I want Wikipedia in my hotel room!

1 Ironically, this takes place just after Moses returns with the first copy of the 10 commandments.

2 I would have included more New Testament examples, but the Old Testament ones are generally easier to find.

3 In this case it’s the lumping in of the wife with the chattels.

4 I got bored looking for references and so left out racism, sectarianism, self-loathing, …


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