Why Do You Find Bibles in Hotel Rooms?

History Hit

2 mins

10 Nov 2017

They have become as familiar a feature of hotel stays as the little pots of milk and difficult-to-walk-in flip flop slippers. But why is it so common to find a bible in a hotel room?

The organisation responsible is called the Gideons and they began their mission in 1908.

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A new Christian organisation

The organisation was formed ten years earlier when American businessmen John H Nicholson and Samuel E Hill were forced to share a room at a fully booked hotel in Wisconsin. The pair discussed their Christian faith and came up with the idea of creating an association for travelling Christians.

The idea took a while to take off. At the first public meeting, Nicholson and Hill made up two of the three attendees. But gradually the association, now called the Gideons, attracted more members.

The Gideons took their name from the prophet Gideon, depicted here with an angel

The first bibles

On 10 November, 1908 the first twenty-five bibles were placed in the Superior Hotel, Montana. Archie Bailey, a Gideon and regular visitor to the Superior, asked the hotel manager for permission to deliver the bibles and covered the cost himself.

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A global effort

Since then, the Gideons have placed more than two billion bibles in hotel rooms around the world and they claim that hotel surveys suggest as many as 25% of people read the bibles they find. The Gideon bibles have also encouraged hotels to place other religious texts in their rooms too.

However not every hotel room has a bible. The British Travelodge chain removed the bibles from a large number of its hotels in 2007. Elsewhere they have been replaced with other reading material, including copies of Fifty Shades of Grey in one Lake District hotel.

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