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Gideon Counterbalance

Organization for religious plurality.
  (+9, -5)
(+9, -5)
  [vote for,
against]

An organization known as the Gideons has long been making an effort to place copies of the Bible (New International Version, I think) in the dresser drawers of as many hotel and hospital rooms as possible worldwide. The idea, as far as I can make it out, is that people who find themselves desperate and alone in their hotel rooms will open the drawer looking for something to steal or an old syringe to re-use or a place to put their shirts, find the bible instead, and sit down to read.

If people are going to be offered religious literature in their hotel rooms, though, someone probably ought make an effort to provide a wider choice so that guests seeking spiritual guidance can find whatever suits them best. There should be a competing organization, then, which lobbies hotel chains to allow other religious groups to place tracts of their own alongside the little red bible -- the Qu'ran, Torah and talmuds, tao te ching, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada, some atheist pamphlets, the Book of Mormon, pamphlets for various Christian and Islamic sects, and so on -- and encourages these groups to do so.
Monkfish, Jul 13 2002

Baked, sort of http://www.madison....ks/reviews/5297.php
[latka, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

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       the thing i would like to find in my hotel drawer is a copy of this months playboy( for the informative articles) and a $20 note. I'm not sure that any organised religions ought to be encouraged to do anything. Even stuff that they do that seems like a good idea at the time, gets twisted into something that we all end up regretting. Allowing sexualy restricted middle aged men to look after small children is something that springs immediatly to my mind.
briandamage, Jul 13 2002
  

       Some religions are not as evangelical as the Gideons, so they may not wish to have their propoganda thrown all over the world.
[ sctld ], Jul 13 2002
  

       Allow some hotel adverts in the church pew hymnals? (long time no sea Monkfish)
FarmerJohn, Jul 13 2002
  

       Hogwash.   

       No one doing anything voluntarily has a duty to do anything (other than follow the laws of the land, of course). There is no separation of church and people, only church and state (and even that is an urban legend). Spare us the pluralist mumbo jumbo.   

       [Except and unless you are proposing to post the The Possibly Proper Death Litany in every cemetary and funeral parlor:
"Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen."]
DrCurry, Jul 14 2002
  

       I thought it was plenty obvious that 'duty' was not meant in the sense of a strict statutory obligation. On the other hand, maybe it's true that "someone ought to" would have been a better choice. Changed.   

       Your fourth sentence would make sense if there were some idea nearby which had to do with compelling the Gideons to provide anything other than bibles.   

       There is no freedom from pluralist mumbo jumbo, only freedom of pluralist mumbo jumbo.   

       (Hi, FarmerJohn, blissmiss.)
Monkfish, Jul 14 2002
  

       I personally don't see anything wrong with this idea. There is nothing absolutely stopping this group from forming, and if a group of people feel this is necessary, then more power to them.   

       Mainly, as a matter of choice, I do not read the Bibles in hotel rooms and I think it is somewhat overkill that they are placed there; but since they are there then why not have a well-represented group of Bibles, if I don't have to pay for it?
polartomato, Jul 14 2002
  

       I don't read the bibles in hotel rooms either, but I do take the time to sign the front cover of every one I come across with the words, 'It's all true, every word - Jesus'.
mighty_cheese, Jul 14 2002
  

       I'd go for this one, Monkfish. As DrCurry notes, since the placement of alternate religious reading material would be done voluntarily there is certainly no obligation to place only New International Bibles. (Ye cats and little fishes, at least the Gideons could use King James! Why an inferior version?)   

       But please! No "atheist pamphlets" versus weighty poetical tomes of religious literature. At least give us J. L. Mackie's "The Miracle of Theism"!
Dog Ed, Jul 14 2002
  

       I thought this would be a group of dedicated anti-Gideons who went around taking the bibles out of hotel rooms. I used to do that occassionally, in my younger, more bolshy days; although I wouldn't do it now, I'm still not entirely convinced that ideological tracts like the bible should be allowed in hotel rooms. What if the children get a hold of them, f'r crying out loud? But, no, I'm not going to start dropping lit cigarettes of cynicism in the dry brush that is other:religion. So I'll just say "croisssant" and leave it at that.
Guy Fox, Jul 14 2002
  

       much prefer an edition of "The Far Side" or a tome by Glen Baxter
po, Jul 14 2002
  

       I'm all in favour of balance and even-handedness in such matters. I think there should be an organisation to put the other point of view; how about the Malleus Maleficarum , or how about the Necoronmicon of the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred ? Late night reading to stir the soul (if any). Five-pointed croissant.
8th of 7, Jul 14 2002
  

       The Malleus Maleficarum (or The Religious Zealot's Guide To Persecution And Hysteria) is hardly the 'other point of view'. And I carry my own Necronomicon - pocket edition, of course (Mustn't look at the corners of the room... not the corners... not the... aaaaaargh!).
Guy Fox, Jul 14 2002
  

       I knew someone once who was a camp counssellor at an American summer camp for children. When a child said something which was obviously untrue, he'd say "Would you swear to that on a stack of Bibles?". The kid would say "Yeah". He would then bring out a big stack of Gideon Bibles he'd taken from hotel rooms - quite a surprise for many kids. I'm sure he had a Gideon Mormon book too.
hippo, Jul 14 2002
  

       Well, I have to vote against this, but maybe not for the reasons many would expect. I have to vote "no" solely because as a Christian I can't in good conscience recommend something that I see as leading a potentially needy person away from the thing that will meet his need.   

       But I do not oppose the underlying suggestion that people should have free choice of religious ideas. It may surprise some that Christian doctrine supports this too, though of course there are plenty of Christians who don't act like it does. For Christians, the most authoritative precedent for religious choice should not be the American Bill of Rights, but the example of Christ, who could have enforced His will militarily, but instead chose death so that people would have a choice that is truly free.   

       Incidentally, I'm sure I've seen the Book of Mormon in some hotel rooms. Also, I think you'd run into practical problems with most hotel owners, at least in the U.S. I bet that many non-Christian hoteliers accept the Gideon Bibles on business principles because a significant portion of their guests see them as a positive thing, while few are offended by them. But I bet most hoteliers would reject offers of Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist and other literature for fear of the boycotts they'd suffer without any real upside in business prospects. Because of its unfortunate connection with terrorism, I suspect the Qu'ran would also have serious problems in the U.S. right now. I think you could probably get by with Jewish texts, but as [ sctld ] points out, Judaism is not evangelistic enough to supply them. I think those factors are much more responsible for the status quo than the absence of a group working to convert hotel rooms into religious libraries.   

       And welcome back from me, too, Monkfish.
beauxeault, Jul 15 2002
  

       To any person capable of logical thought, the Bible is the best argument for atheism. And that goes a million times more for "Dianetics" and scientology. And a close study of Freuds writings would convince most people of the vacuity of psychoanalytic theory. and so on. The vast bulk of religious literature is for the converted, not for conversion.
pfperry, Jul 15 2002
  

       So I read this title and thought it would be an idea for a way to ward off a trumpet-and-angel offensive...   

       (stop asking me where I've been...)
globaltourniquet, Jul 15 2002
  

       pfperry, please. That is overly trodden ground and we've no need to get into that again. Besides, it's off topic.   

       I'll vote against this too, for similar reasons as beaux. However I'd add that I have always wondered if one would find a copy of the Koran in hotel room drawers in Riyadh.
waugsqueke, Jul 15 2002
  

       I always just throw the thing down the laundry chute, but I like this idea.
aredant, May 09 2003
  

       Throw it down the laundry chute? Why? What are you afraid of?
beauxeault, May 09 2003
  

       I agree with [beauxeault] in the fundamental belief in religious choice.   

       Religious liberty is not a natural right that comes into existence along with civil society, as in the Bill of Rights. It is prior to civil society. It is rooted in nature itself, in the primordial relation of intelligent creature to Creator. The American founders understood this. In his eloquent "Remonstrance," the young James Madison writes:   

       "[W]e hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, that religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds, cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of civil society. Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered a subject of the Governor of the Universe."   

       The decision to believe as one's conscience dictates is a right we all have by nature of being human. No government and no presence or absence of holy writings in a hotel drawer, can take that away.   

       That said, it seems to me that legally, in the U.S., "other religious groups" are allowed "to place tracts of their own alongside the little red bible." But as [beauxeault] said, the hotels can refuse them.   

       Now for those of you destroying or maliciously displacing the bible you find in your hotel, why do this? If you want, place your favorite holy writ for the next guy. By the way, I've also seen the Book of Mormon in places--I think Marriott. The owner was (is?) a Mormon.
chaotician, May 09 2003
  

       I have a gideon bible, it is a king james version that is also the version that i think they solely distribute in, however i have heard form one other person that they may have NIV. The one that i have is one of the pocket size new testaments I've carried it in my pocket for over two years and read it frequently. Just yesterday i had the pleasure of giving it away to a child at the daycare i work at. It took a few minutes afterward to realize that i would not have it any longer but i felt really happy to do it. I think it is horable to destroy or take simply out of spite. If for no other reason but that of the fact that someone dotated money so that they bible could be printed and placed there. I went to the website of gideons and they said a great deal of the bible they put out are replacing earlier ones placed. This could be great and fulfilling of there purpose of getting bibles out to people, as in the case of people without a bible taking one, but some of those bibles are ones that people have maliciously taken. So my point is that the bible will be placed there once again, but there will have to be someone paying for that insiteful(forgive my rhetoric if offensive)book to be placed there again.
love2everyone, May 10 2003
  

       //why do this//   

       I hear the pages make good reefer papers. There's probably a serious karmic downside, especially if you get busted with a baggie and a shredded bible in certain locales, so I'd avoid doing this.   

       BTW, whenever I visit a hotel, I check the Bible and phone directory. It's surprisingly common for people to stash money in bibles and just as surprising that sometimes they forget they did so, but it's worked for me (once) and I found two $100 dollar bills.
FloridaManatee, May 22 2003
  

       I believe that the Gideons hand out New King James Versions. I was handed a Gideons New Testament and it is a New King James Version (an orange pocket one). I have seen a Book of Mormon once or twice in hotels before, but I can't remember where it was.
darkknight_152002, Jul 25 2003
  
      
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