There are certain things everyone assumes will be in a hotel room. Tiny bars of soap. Clean towels. A Gideon Bible in the bedside table.
Guests at Penn State’s two hotels now will have to ask for a copy of the Good Book if they feel a late-night need for the New Testament, because of a new policy change.
“Penn State decided to remove Bibles from individual guest rooms in both of its hotels, The Nittany Lion Inn and the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, and to place them in public access areas,” Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.
The move was made not to limit the beliefs of one group but to be more inclusive of all, Penn State said.
“In the past few decades, the world and its people have changed dramatically. 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,” Powers said. “This action was taken in the spirit of recognizing other religions and beliefs among our guests.”
The move also makes it possible for other groups — such as Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. — to have their beliefs, and their religious books, be put on the same footing.
“It’s my understanding that those publications are certainly accepted if a group wishes to make them available at our hotels,” Powers said.
The religious tomes have been moved to the hotel’s libraries. Maybe not every hotel has its own book collection, but the university’s do. In fact, the Nittany Lion Inn has two of them. The Bibles are also available in some other public access areas. But that doesn’t mean they have to stay there.
Maggie Biddle, general manager of the Atherton Hotel in downtown State College, said her 149 rooms still have Bibles, but that she appreciated the motivation behind Penn State’s move.
“That’s something we might think about ourselves,” she said.
“We are an international university and we reach a large population of very diverse people from around the world,” Powers said. “Enough cannot be said about being cognizant and respectful of all peoples and their beliefs.”