Complaints from a hotel guest has resulted in the Memorial Union moving all bibles from its hotel rooms to the Memorial Union's Browsing Library. The guest logged a complaint with the Freedom From Religions Foundation.
The bibles will be moved starting March 1.
In a press release issued by the foundation, a letter was written to Richard Reynolds, director of the Memorial Union, with Freedom From Religions Foundation Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott making a statement as to the legality of having bibles present in a government-owned hotel.
“It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a government entity cannot in any way promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion,” Elliot said.
The Memorial Union acknowledged the foundation’s concerns and Reynolds replied to the request of the removal of the bibles via email.
"The concern raised about the availability of bibles in the guest rooms of the Memorial Union has been taken under advisement and effective March 1, 2014, the bibles will be removed from the hotel rooms," Reynolds said.
However, John McCarroll, executive director for the office of university relations, made it clear that accommodations will be made for guests who would like a Bible or any number of other publications in their rooms.
"The bibles will be moved to the Browsing Library, which is located downstairs in the same building. When a guest checks into the hotel they will be given the opportunity to request that any publication in the browsing library, the Bible and many other religious texts included, be delivered to their room," McCarroll said.
McCarroll said that this was the most appropriate step to take at this time.
Iowa State University is not the first college to have the Freedom From Religious Foundation step in to remove bibles from on-campus hotel rooms. The bibles in the hotel on the University of Wisconsin campus were removed earlier this year. The foundation is based in Wisconsin.
However, Iowa State seemed to put up less of a fight on the subject as the response issued by Reynolds came only two weeks after the request was made, whereas the University of Wisconsin was asked to do the same for their hotel rooms as early as the 1980s.
The decision to remove the bibles has not come without some backlash from the Christian community, both on and off campus.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group, recently wrote letters to both Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin, claiming that the argument by the foundation was in conflict with legal precedent.
“The Supreme Court and numerous other federal courts have repeatedly condemned efforts to exclude or restrict religious materials and activities as viewpoint or content discrimination, both at universities and elsewhere," as stated in the letter.
There has been no official response issued as of yet in response to the concerns of the Alliance Defending Freedom.