So far, over 157,000 Americans are standing with us in our fight against the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and its outrageous claim that Bibles placed by the Gideons in hotel rooms cause a constitutional crisis (of biblical proportions).
In a recent letter, FFRF’s hostile brigade warns three public universities – Northern Illinois University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Iowa – that Bibles in their university-owned hotels were “inappropriate and unconstitutional.” FFRF also asserted that “providing bibles to … [h]otel guests sends the message that [the university] endorses the religious texts.” In a press release, FFRF bragged about the success of its wrongful bullying tactics, claiming that all three universities promptly removed the Bibles from the hotel rooms.
We reported on these unfortunate developments, emphasizing the absurdity of FFRF’s claim and the fact that the universities bought it – hook, line, and sinker. Now we are taking action.
Our legal team is preparing a letter directed to the universities, rebutting FFRF’s deeply flawed arguments. As part of our legal strategy, we sent open record requests to these universities requesting any letters or documents FFRF may have sent them and any internal communications leading to the universities’ misguided decision to remove the Bibles. Once we receive responses, we will finalize and send our legal letter to the universities – setting the record straight. Contrary to FFRF’s distorted characterizations, Bibles in hotel rooms are perfectly constitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States has been unequivocal that angry atheists like FFRF don’t enjoy a “heckler’s veto.” As we’ve previously explained:
[A]dults should be able to withstand “speech they find disagreeable,” without imagining that the Establishment Clause is violated every time they “experience a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views.” By extension, requiring the elimination of Bibles in hotel rooms owned by public universities would, as the court has found in other contexts, “lead the law to exhibit a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions.”
Apparently emboldened by its success in bullying the university hotels into submission, FFRF has now set its sights on privately owned hotels. FFRF further removes its errant legal position and logic from reality by targeting private companies. Taking on the mantle of consumer advocate, and following up on its demand letter to numerous hotel companies comparing Bibles to smoking, FFRF now brags of an even more recent demand letter to the American Hotel and Motel Association. It complains that the Gideons are “exploiting” a “captive audience,” as if closed nightstand drawers suddenly open and Bibles springs forth, coercing poor helpless patrons into flipping through its pages. FFRF’s premise is as ridiculous as its intended result.
In short, Bibles in hotel rooms do not constitute coercion or proselytization, whether in the closed drawers of university or privately run hotels. While FFRF’s petulant insistence otherwise is meritless, it takes action to counter the relentless assault. Otherwise, unsuspecting hoteliers, left with the impression that FFRF’s garbled distortions of the law are unopposed, cave to the pressure.
Stand with us as we continue to fight against FFRF’s bullying crusade to remove Bibles from hotel rooms.
Laura Hernandez is Senior Counsel with the ACLJ, specializing in constitutional litigation at the federal appellate level. She has participated as amicus curiae counsel in numerous cases before the United States Supreme Court, and the lower federal courts. A graduate of The University of Richmond Law School in Richmond, Virginia, Hernandez was Executive Editor of the Law Review. After graduation, Hernandez clerked for the Honorable John D. Butzner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Hernandez then practiced commercial litigation with the Virginia law firms of Christian and Barton, and Kaufman and Canoles. She also taught legal writing at Regent University School of Law for several years.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.