It’s official. The moral fabric of the country has now undeniably rotted to rags with the decision of Travelodge, one of the country’s biggest hotel chains, to remove Bibles from its rooms. The chain cited increasing ‘multi-cultural diversity’ as one of the main reasons behind the decision.
The decision should have raised the question of what in God’s name, quite literally, Bibles are doing there in the first place. The practice of leaving Bibles in hotel rooms began in the late nineteenth century when a couple of American travelling businessmen had the idea of ‘witnessing for Christ’ on the road. Clearly these businessmen were not quite as financially astute as Billy Graham, since giving away books generally doesn’t generate much revenue and you’re also left in the position of finding funding to buy the books before you give them away.
Don’t get me wrong. I have generally found the presence of a Bible in the bedside drawer to be a useful thing in most of the hotel rooms I have stayed in. How else are you going to ensure that the fourth leg of that wobbly table is supported, or stop the badly fitting en-suite bathroom door from rattling in the dead of night? It is also a useful item to throw repeatedly at the ceiling when the couple in the room above are going at it in the squeaky bed until 3am, at the same time invoking the apt line from that Christmas classic, ‘Oh come, all ye faithful, and for God’s sake make it soon!’
I feel a little sorry for Travelodge. I mean, what if every denomination of every religion in the world wanted to leave a copy of its religious scripture in a hotel bedroom? Well, the first observation is that not only would a bedside drawer not be big enough, but you would probably find it impossible to push the room door open from the outside, due to it being filled from floor to ceiling with religious texts.
Of course, the answer many would give to this is ‘This is a Christian country, built on Christian principles.’ Oh, really? This would be the same religion whose religious text (the Bible, coincidentally enough) has such gender equality gems as “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home;” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Neither was Jesus very big on having women as part of his ‘core’ ministry of twelve. I doubt many victims of the numerous, literal ‘witch hunts’ down the centuries felt much like applauding Christian principles as they were plunged into water or felt the flames licking their toes. Christianity is really not into democracy at all, when you think about it. I mean, when the whole thing is built on the principle of trying to shoehorn yourself into following a lot of instructions to make sure you can spend eternity endlessly worshipping an almighty ‘God’ whose feet you are not fit to lick, it is hard to see where the democracy fits in. ‘We don’t feel like worshipping today, Lord, and we’ve all taken a vote and decided we’re off to the pub.’ Yeah, right. Now back on your knees, before I get mad; which God does quite a lot of in the Old Testament.
But the best thing about the decision by Travelodge has to be that it will get right up the nostrils of two groups that really have no equal when it comes to mindless stupidity and misplaced moral righteousness; Daily Mail readers and evangelical Christians.