Someone named Steve Lowe has a guest post at Hemant’s blog, which also appears in the most recent issue of American Atheists magazine, entitled “How to Deal with Unwanted Hotel Bibles.” The answer seems obvious to me: Don’t read them. Or do, if you like. Apparently that isn’t good enough for Lowe, who goes through an elaborate ritual instead:
Are you tired of always finding a Bible in your hotel room bedside drawer?
No, actually. I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of nights of my life in hotel rooms (9 years of traveling to debate tournaments every weekend, almost 5 years of being a road comic and countless weekends at conferences add up quickly), and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve even opened the bedside drawer for any reason, much less to see if there’s a Bible there.
When I come across a Bible — or any religious book — in a hotel room, I personally take it to the front desk. I smile, shake the hand of the person behind the counter, and compliment them on something (the nice room, the helpful staff, etc.). If it’s the case, I mention that I’m a member of their loyalty program. I then ask to speak to the manager on duty. I do all of this in a friendly way, which establishes a cordial setting for what I do next, which is to ask, “Is this a hotel only for Christians?” or “Do you have a preference for Christians at this hotel?” or “Do you presume that I am a Christian?” The typical reply is, “No, why do you ask?”
“Well,” I say, placing the Bible on the counter, “I found this in my room.” The usual reply is, “Yes, we put those in all of our rooms as a matter of company policy.”
My response, always delivered politely, is to ask, “Why is there only a Christian religious book in the room? Does this hotel presume that all guests are Christian? Why not a Koran, and a Torah, and the Book of Mormon, and a book on Buddhism?”
At this point, they often apologize on behalf of the hotel and offer to take it off my hands. I give it to them and thank them, but I continue with the following points:
“The policy of placing only a Christian book in the rooms gives the impression that this hotel assumes that all guests are Christian, or worse, that it prefers Christian guests, or, even worse, that it thinks all guests should become Christians…
In closing, I state exactly what actions I want them to take: “Thank you for listening to my feedback (keep smiling). I would like you to convey to your upper management my complaint and ask that they consider changing their policy and put no religious materials in the rooms. A Bible is not necessary, it’s off-putting to many guests, and even offensive to some. If this hotel wants to respond to the “needs” of some guests, I suggest having copies of several religious texts at the front desk, available upon request.” I leave on a cordial note by shaking their hand and thanking them for their time.
If, after my stay, I receive a standard email requesting feedback about my stay, I make these points again in writing. If I’m not asked for feedback, I go to their website and send the feedback myself, making sure to include any reference or confirmation number along with the dates and location of my stay. If there is no electronic option to do this, I mail a letter to the company headquarters.
Congratulations. You’ve managed to annoy the crap out of a front desk clerk who couldn’t possibly care any less, who will be sure to raise your complaint with the board of directors at the next shareholder’s conference. I do the same thing with my coffee maker. You see, I don’t drink coffee and it angers me that the hotel so presumptuously thinks that everyone who stays there drinks coffee — or worse yet, that they think only coffee drinkers should stay at their hotels. I’m very polite about it, of course, and that magically makes up for the fact that I’m wasting both my time and theirs.
Yes, yes, I know. Religion is bad and we must strike a blow for rationality, no matter how small it may be, because…..*snore*. Seriously, people. It’s a fucking book, sitting in a drawer where chances are very slim that you’ll ever even notice it if you don’t go looking for it. It doesn’t give off cooties. And taking this Brave Stand for Reason will do nothing at all to make religion any less bad or reduce its influence. And you’re not being an edgy activist by behaving this way, you’re just being childish.
What is it we like to tell Christian conservatives who object to gay characters on TV and other things they disapprove of? Don’t watch the shows. Watch what you like. The same principle works here. It really isn’t worth any more effort than that.