I remember a time when every hotel room in… well, at least the US had a Gideon’s Bible tucked away in one of its drawers. It occurs to me that I haven’t seen one in about ten years now, and I spend a lot of time in major-chain hotels, mostly foreign, but in Christian-majority countries. I wouldn’t expect to find one in Japan or Korea, but I’m surprised I didn’t find one in Guam or the Phillippines.
Have the Gideons changed their mission? Narrowed it down? What’s the straight dope?
I was always under the impression that having Bibles in hotel rooms was a genuine American tradition. Whenever there is an article or an opinion piece about the perceived religiosity of Americans, the author never fails to mention this factoid.
In the year 2012 I was in hotels in Spain, northern Italy, Canada, and England. Not to mention hotels in New York, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, and northern Wisconsin.
Every single one of them had a Bible in them.
All in the top drawer of the night stand next to the bed.
I found them in hotels in the US in the last few years. They also stopped through my medical center within the last year and were handing them out to be left as reading material in clinic waiting rooms.
In Canada, I received a little red “leatherette*” New Testament + Psalms and Proverbs from the Gideon’s in grade 4 or 5. (so nine or 10 years old) I received a white “nurse’s testament” from the Gideon’s society just before I graduated Nursing school. There was about 20 minutes at the end of a class and we could stay for a presentation and get a Bible, or leave, our choice. I have actually carried this Testament with me to work, and lent it out to a few people over the years, mainly to people sitting vigil with a dying loved one. (And twice to read to a dying patient, and once to a person who was very frightened about upcoming surgery.)I am Christian, but not overly religious and certainly very private/silent about it, so co workers are always surprised to find out I routinely have one with me. Maybe it has been six or eight times in 13 years, but when someone is having trouble it is nice to have something more to offer than “I will leave a message for Pastoral Care to contact you in the morning.”
*My parents have a collection of Bibles and testaments on their shelves, including the red LEATHER testament that my dad recieved at the same age from the Gideon’s society. Considering that my white Nurse’s testament is merely a shinier heavy weight cardstock embossed in white, I really can admire the 1950 volume. I actually wish mine had a leather finish, it would be nicer to lend out to people.