By John Sheda
As most Iowans know by now, the Bible has been removed from rooms in the Iowa State University Memorial Union Hotel.
We can all rest a little easier now that ISU has gotten rid of this dastardly piece of literature. No more nightmares for those innocent people sleeping in the 52-room hotel. Peace will finally, after the many years that the Bibles have been in the hotel, come to those rooms.
“Free at last, free at last, thank God, we’re free at last.” Oops, not “thank God,” but who to thank then?
We can thank the Freedom From Religion Foundation for the newly found freedom from the Bible. It seems one guest complained. Not a thousand or 500 or even a hundred. Heck, not even 10.
Then this foundation of national renown, with all of its approximately 150 members, penned a letter to Richard Reynolds, director of the Memorial Union, requesting the removal of the Bibles. One guest complained; one letter written; one director caved in. Quick and painless. Poof, they’re gone!
The gist of the letter suggested to Mr. Reynolds that providing religious texts, such as the Bible, facilitated illegal endorsement of Christianity over other religions. And with this one letter and the subsequent request, the Bibles are gone.
A little extreme, don’t you think? On many levels.
The Bibles were placed in the Memorial Union Hotel years ago by The Gideons, an international organization that has been placing Bibles in every room of virtually every hotel in the United States since 1908. At no cost to anyone but the Gideons. No proselytizing, no threats, no church services or even mandatory reading of the Bibles.
Just one Bible, per one room, quietly tucked in the nightstand next to the phone book. That was the vision at first and now the vision has expanded to around 190 countries around the world. Instead of condemning this act of generosity, we should be applauding it.
So what about the argument that this freedom, if it were to continue, would have to be given to all organizations, all religions.
Folks, since its visionary inception in 1908, no other religious or non-religious organization has been concerned enough about their fellow man to do anything even close to what the Gideons have accomplished.
The questions that bids asking: “What can you and I do?” Well, here’s a thought.
How about if you disagree with Mr. Reynold’s decision to have the Bibles removed; just don’t stay at the Memorial Union Hotel until they’re brought back into the rooms.
Imagine having about 25-30 empty rooms for several weeks or months.John Sheda is pastor of Living Water Church in Independence. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org