Making Gideons’ Bibles available is constitutionally protected and should be restored to Penn State hotel guest rooms
Penn State fans have a lot to cheer for this season – but hardly anyone is cheering for their most recent off-field fumble.
The Nittany Lion Inn is Penn State’s only on-campus hotel and the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel is just north of campus; both run by the university. Just like in most hotels – thanks to groups like the Gideons – a Bible had been in each hotel’s guest room.
However, Penn State recently decided to remove all Bibles from their rooms. Why? Was there a sit-in by thousands of students? Any large donors crying out about this material in nightstands? Were the Bibles causing lumps in their pillows?
The removal was simply due to one letter sent on June 6th by a Wisconsin-based non-profit that has a habit of making erroneous complaints.
It’s the same group that badger churches over political activity, help pass out Satanic literature and bully school districts to stop choirs from singing “Joy to the World” or performing in community events for Christmas (which courts unanimously and rightly allow).
This complaint falsely stated it is unconstitutional to have Bibles in guest rooms. It failed to mention how the Supreme Court has repeatedly made it clear that the Constitution does not require any removal but rather “affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any” (see Lynch v. Donnelly).
One letter from Wisconsin prompted Penn State to remove Bibles from guest rooms – to punt on 1st down and to cave to a false depiction of religious freedom. Their action, attempting to be “respectful of all religions,” has done the exact opposite – showcasing a hostility to Christianity in favor of political correctness.
PSU President Dr. Barron should restore the Bibles and show his leadership by valuing religious freedom – just as other schools have done. The Naval Academy received the same erroneous letter sent to Penn State this summer. Though they initially removed the Bibles – a decision made without consulting senior Navy leadership – they now stand by religious freedom by keeping the Gideon’s Bible in their guest rooms.
The university did not pay for the Bibles that have been in their guest room for decades. They have every right to accommodate religious practices and the school claim to be strongly committed to freedom of religion and expression. However, Penn State still stands by their decision to remove Bibles from guest rooms and only have them available in public access areas and libraries because “in the past few decades, the world and its people have changed dramatically.”
What hasn’t changed is every American’s right to religious freedom – which includes the freedom to provide a Bible in a hotel nightstand.
Penn State may have beat Navy in 2012, but right now they’re beating PSU and that should never happen.