Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit organization, Thursday sent a letter to Penn State encouraging the university to reverse its decision to remove Bibles from guest rooms at the Nittany Lion Inn and The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.
Penn State said it took out Gideon Bibles from rooms but placed some in public access areas in its hotels to be more inclusive of different religious beliefs.
“We wish to be respectful of all religions, and also of those who have differing beliefs, yet we still wanted to ensure the publication was available to those who desire to read it while staying with us,” Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.
“This action was taken in the spirit of recognizing other religions and beliefs among our guests.”
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According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit part of Atheist Alliance International which says it “works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church,” the FFRF complained in June to Penn State about Bibles in the university’s hotel room.
“State-run colleges have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion,” the FFRF said on its website. “When a government entity like PSU distributes religious material to visitors, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message, in this case a Christian message.”
ADF, which describes itself “an alliance-building, nonprofit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith,” responded by saying the Bibles do not violate the U.S. Constitution and urged Penn State to replace them “instead of surrendering to the atheist group’s unfounded legal threats and inaccurate demands.”
ADF said it sent letters to the University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University and the U.S. Navy “after similar FFRF complaints.”