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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 24 March, 2019
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Explainer: Why are there bibles in hotel rooms?

You might not read it… but we bet you always check to see if it’s there.

A HOTEL IN Newcastle has decided that it’s going to replace bibles in its rooms with Kindles, complete with a pre-loaded version of the religious text.

The Kindle will also offer guests the chance to download another religious text of their choice for free, while there’ll also be an option to download other material with the charges added to their bill.

But why are there bibles in hotel rooms in the first place?

Gideons International, a missionary arm of the church, were the ones who initiated the practice, and who carry it on to this day. The group was formed by three Christian businessmen in 1899, who decided that placing bibles in hotel rooms – where they spent a lot of time – would help to spread their message.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association states that the first bible was placed in a hotel by Gideons International in 1908, in the Superior Hotel in Montana.

According to the Gideons International website the organisation has placed more than 1.6 billion bibles and new testaments in hotels in 190 countries and in 90 languages.

Gideons don’t hold the exclusive rights to placing religious texts in hotels, and some hotels do carry literature which is representative of other religions. Some Marriott hotels for example carry The Book of Mormon, while Nikko hotels feature Buddhist texts.

Religious texts in a Marriott hotel. Image: Chispita_666 via Flickr/Creative Commons

A spokesperson for the Irish Hotels Federation told TheJournal.ie that the policy of placing bibles or allowing bibles to be placed in hotel rooms is solely at the discretion of each individual company.

A spokesperson for Jurys Inn told TheJournal.ie that all of their Irish hotel rooms come with a copy of Gideon’s bible, while the Carlton Hotel group said “it’s a tradition in hospitality to have a bible in each bedroom”.

Have you ever read a bible that you found in a hotel room?


Poll Results:

No, but I always check to see if it's there (1646)
No (1371)
Yes (380)



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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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