Monday, February 24, 2014

Public colleges are reminded that an anti-religious discrimination is unconstitutional

From Christian

Christian Legal Group Urges Public Universities to Restore Bibles to Hotel Rooms

A prominent Christian legal organization has sent rebuttal letters to two public universities that recently decided to remove all Gideon Bibles from their hotel rooms in response to complaints from an atheist activist organization.

As previously reported, the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University were contacted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) last month after they received anonymous complaints surrounding the Gideon Bibles that are placed in the university hotel rooms.

The organization asserted that the presence of the Bibles at University of Wisconsin’s Lowell Center and Iowa State University’s Memorial Union violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” FFRF also contended that the Bibles signified the promotion of Christianity by a government-0wned university.

“It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a government entity cannot promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion,” one letter stated. “Permitting members of outside religious groups the privilege of placing their religious literature in public university guest rooms constitutes state endorsement and advancement of these Christian publications.”

Both universities responded by advising that they would remove the Bibles from all guest rooms, and Iowa State University said that the copies would be moved to the library beginning in March.

But this week, the Arizona-based Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent letters to both the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University to urge officials to leave the Bibles in place. The letters outlined that FFRF’s reasoning was flawed and not in alignment with legal precedent.

“In reality, the First Amendment does not require you to remove these Bibles, and by removing them, you may have demonstrated the very viewpoint discrimination and hostility towards religion that the First Amendment prohibits,” it wrote. “The Supreme Court and numerous other federal courts have repeatedly condemned efforts to exclude or restrict religious materials and activities as viewpoint or content discrimination, both at universities and elsewhere.”

“[C]ontrary to what FFRF implied, the Establishment Clause does not require government entities to dissociate themselves from everything religious,” the letters continued. “Indeed, the Supreme Court has repeatedly made it clear that the Constitution does not ‘require complete separation of church and state.’ Rather, it ‘affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.’”


The Alliance Defense Fund is exactly right. Selective removal of Bibles from state-owned hotels is a clear violation of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, which guarantee free exercise of religion and prohibit federal regulation of religious activities. Selective removal of the Bibles is an explicitly anti-religious act that the government is not permitted to undertake. 

Let us hope that litigation arises from this obvious constitutional violation and that these colleges are held to account for this unconstitutional act of state-sanctioned anti-religious bigotry.


  1. I think that the Bibles should have been left there. Just think of the numbers of ways militant atheists could deface Bibles in the privacy of their rooms.

    If I ever stay in a hotel which provides Gideon Bibles I must admit ... I do nothing to it.

    1. Off topic (sort of). In Nature Geoscience on the weekend past it was reported that the world's oldest rock was discovered and dated at 4.4 billion years old.

      Which raises the following points:

      It was discovered almost in my backyard, just 800 km north of where I live.

      Western Australia has again taken the record for having the oldest rocks, pinching it off Canada.

      The Earth cooled off much more rapidly than previously thought, with life possible 4.3 billion years ago (although the earliest recognisable fossils are from 3.4 billion years ago).

      Readers of the Gideon Bible can ponder on how Genesis can be reconciled with science.

    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyFebruary 24, 2014 at 7:36 AM

      bilgeful, do you view Genesis as an attempt to write a science book?

      If so, one wonders how Churchill reconciled his "Sinews of Peace" speech with modern anatomical data.


    3. Senile old fart,

      Reconciliation doesn't necessarily mean that one's right and the other's wrong. One could be metaphor and the other literally true.

      And figures of speech don't necessarily need to be literally true either.

    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:07 AM

      barkmad: "One could be metaphor and the other literally true..."

      You dug that remark out of the bowels of the earth.

    5. Senile old fart,

      You're just perseverating.

    6. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:39 AM

      barkmad, do you mean beating a dead horse?

      If so, you are wrong. I'm flogging you like a rented mule.

    7. Senile old fart,

      ... with a limp lettuce leaf.

  2. I'm going to have to disagree with you here, Egnor. The Constitution neither compels nor prohibits Bibles in hotel rooms.

    Leaving them there is not a violation of anyone's rights. Taking them out is not a violation of anyone's rights.

    The universities here folded in the face of a very intolerant bunch, which they should not have. That much is true. It only emboldens them.

    If ever there was an example of the intolerance of the Left, this is it. The mere presence of a book in their rooms drives them into fits of uncontrollable rage. They don't have to read it. They don't even have to look at it. They can flip on the TV and rent some porn if they want, but that book will still be there...calling out to them while they are trying to sleep...driving them insane, or rather just a little more insane than they were before.

    Not all atheists are like this, of course. I have atheist friends and acquaintances who are not infected with this kind of bizarre pathology, but the pathology clearly exists.


  3. JQ I agree with you that the Constitution neither compels nor prohibits Bibles in hotel rooms.

    However I believe that the Constitution prohibits all federal
    courts from sanctioning the removal (or placement) of Bibles in hotel rooms when that is a specific act against a religious expression.

    The Constitution requires that the federal government not participate in the religion regulation business.

    If an individual state institution wishs to exercise
    religious discrimination I personally believe that that is constitutional from
    the standpoint of the federal Constitution but I believe it is not
    constitutional for the federal government to participate in this discrimination itself.

    Federal anti-religious discrimination is precisely what the FFRC was demanding when it sent the threatening letters to the colleges because these letters were threatening action in federal courts.

    1. I don't know whether a federal court would have ordered the removal of Bibles from publicly funded college accommodation. After all, surely public libraries would have Bibles in their book collections? And perhaps copies of the Koran?

      The college administration just did the easiest thing and had the Bibles removed.

      I would have left them there. Reading the Bible is the best tool for creating atheists around.

      Actually, I wonder what the survival of Gideons Bibles is. It's been claimed that the most commonly stolen book from American public libraries is the Bible (by militant atheists? Or Christians who've forgotten the commandment against stealing?)

      I've sometimes been tempted to steal a Gideon Bible, but have managed to suppress the urge. The only book I've stolen from a hotel is Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Almost Everything' which I exchanged for a book I'd finished (not an equal exchange). And which I passed on to an acquaintance when I bought the Kindle version.

    2. Bill Bryson is a favorite of mine. I am currently listening to his A Walk In the Woods and have read probably a half dozen others.He's a witty chap, that one.


    3. I still don't see how removing the Bible's was unconstitutional. It was cowardly for sure, and that kind of cowardice is killing us little by little. But not unconstitutional.


    4. JQ:

      I agree. In my opinion the removal of the Bibles was not
      unconstitutional. A decision by federal court that the Bibles had
      to be removed would be in my view unconstitutional.

      However, if the standard is that no government institution is permitted to support/inhibit religion, then the removal by the state colleges is unconstitutional.

      Sauce for goose/gander.

    5. Egnor,

      Another consideration is whether a third party has the right to place material in a location it doesn't own. What right does the Gideon Society to place Bibles within college accommodation?

      What if the Bibles had been copies of the Koran?

      Any administration has the right to remove material from locations for which it has responsibility - and which it hadn't approved in advance (and even then, it has the right to remove the approval).

      If different groups came into your hospital and placed copies of the Bible, the Koran and 'On the Origin of Species' (say) in public areas, what would you want to be done?

      I think that the hospital administration would direct all three books to be removed, and perhaps placed in lost property. If you're so keen on religious freedom, would you be wanting the Bible and the Koran to be left? If you want only the Bible to be left, then why?

      Anyway. The best solution would have been for the Gideon Bibles to have been placed in lost property. Obviously, someone 'lost' them, and would want them back.

  4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    Frankly, I suspect the effort by the ADF will go nowhere. Despite the fact that the complaint made by FFRF is risible on its face. That's like saying that the presence of donated material in the room "endorses" Pizza Hut and McDonald's, and exhibits "hostility" toward Papa John's and Burger King.

    But I'm sure there are individuals in the University administration who, having been alerted the Bibles are there, will go to the ends of the earth to have them removed. The ideal response would be for Christian alumni to simply send their dollars elsewhere when the Administration begins its annual begging drive, and Christian scholarship funds to remove these two institutions from their lists of approved institutions.

    JQ: "The mere presence of a book in their rooms drives them into fits of uncontrollable rage."

    Very true, JQ. Their reaction clearly illustrates the palpable power of the book.

    1. Senile old fart,

      It's a bit of a grey area. Bibles in a public library are performing a secular function (someone might want to know the exact wording of a biblical quote for literary purposes).

      Bibles in college accommodation wouldn't have any secular function that I can see, and perhaps that's what the FFRF is objecting to.

      Anyway. Anyone who is traveling and wants to read the Bible probably is carrying a copy in their luggage. If I'm traveling with my iPad (almost a certainty), then I have two copies, the King James and a Catholic version.

    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:35 AM

      bilgeful: "Bibles in college accommodation wouldn't have any secular function that I can see..."

      No one ever accused you of seeing beyond your own pince-nez, bilgeful. And I refuse to be the one to educate you on the relevance of the Bible to the secular literary canon. Am I my brother's keeper?

    3. Senile old fart,

      And I like you too.

  5. Excuse my uncontrollable rage, but the government doesn’t have the same rights of religious expression that individuals and private institutions do. If a court were asked by numerous religions to sanction the placement of their religious texts in government run accommodations the only fair and just response would be to say no to all of them.


    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      Popeye: "the only fair and just response..."

      And that statement is grounded in your unimpeachable moral authority, I suppose.

    2. The stament stands on its merits.


    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Which are...?

    4. Actually KW, the Constitution only limits government involvement in religion in three ways. It prohibits the government from requiring a religious test to hold political office, it prohibits the federal establishment of religion, and it prohibits government interference with the free exercise of religion.

      Your own personal opinions have nothing to do with the Constitution itself and you ought to avoid the groundless inference that they do.

    5. Who’s religious liberty would removal of the bibles undermine? The government's? The government doesn't have religious liberty, nor should it.


    6. Egnor, in addition to being completely egnorant of constitutional law, apparently doesn't know the difference between "inference" and "implication". What a maroon!

  6. If the general public only knew how a Gideon Bible could affect a person's life and those around him, even the mothers of the member and supporters of the Freedom From Religion Foundation would disown them as being cruel and heartless.