Bibles in Hotel Rooms is Another Strange Example of Christian Privilege

Roadside motel with classic car

We've all heard of Christian privilege. I'd assume that most people have at least a basic understanding of what the term means. But what does it look like? There are many illustrative examples from which one might select. Choosing one to focus on seems incomplete, but the right one might be enough.

If you have ever traveled in the United States, you might have stayed overnight at a hotel or motel. And if you've done so, you might have noticed one book in every room of every one of them. Of course, we're talking about a book often referred to as "the Bible."

This title is somewhat misleading for a few reasons. First, there are many different versions of books that bear it. There's the Authorized King James Version, the New International Version, and so on. Second, there are also very different bibles. The Satanic Bible comes to mind as an example. Third, there are many other "holy" books that don't include "bible" in their titles. Despite this, some are every bit as important to adherents of their religions.

Finding this book, and only this book, in every hotel room is an example of Christian privilege. Nobody asks you which book you'd like when you check-in. They've made that decision for you. They've provided you with "the good book."

Some atheists deface it. Others throw it in the trash. A few make a point to deliver it to the front desk and say that it is unwelcome in their room. Most of us ignore it. We've seen enough of them that we've come to expect their presence.

Why this book and no others? Christian privilege. What other explanations could there be? Tradition? Sure, a tradition of Christian privilege.

When I find one of these books in my room, I sometimes wonder how much use they get. How many travelers ever touch them? I have a very difficult time imagining it is more than a few each year, but there they are. A the end of a long day on the road, I can't think of anything I'd be less inclined to read.

These books might get more use than I'd guess. What if a teenager mouthed off to their parents during the family road trip? Might a motel room exorcism be in order? And what if evil spirits are haunting the room? Might the book provide some protection? Sound silly? I sure hope so!

Christian privilege remains pervasive in the United States. You can find examples of it everywhere, though you will find more in some regions than others. Placing bibles in hotel rooms is a strange example, but it is far from the most worrisome. As long as it continues, atheists and other non-Christians will struggle to achieve equality.

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