Under Pressure, Penn State Removes Gideon Bibles
By Tony Perkins
Penn State may be considered “higher education,” but they still have a lot to learn about the First Amendment. This month, Penn State opened a new chapter (and verse) in the fight over religious censorship. After decades of keeping the Bible in campus lodging, officials announced that they’d booted Gideon Bibles from rooms after threats from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) — the same organization that pressured the U.S. Navy (unsuccessfully) to pull its books from hotels on base.
In a wild misrepresentation of the Old Testament, FFRF claims the Bible calls for “killing nonbelievers, apostates, gays, ‘stubborn sons,’ and women who are not virgins on their wedding nights.” According to the Foundation’s bullies (none of whom bothered with the actual context of the Scripture they’re distorting), the Bible is “inappropriate” and “obnoxious” reading material that shouldn’t be available in “state-run lodges.” Penn State eagerly complied, snatching the books from rooms and relegating them to the library — without taking the time to actually look up the law on the subject.
As Alliance Defending Freedom has said countless times, “Federal cases have consistently affirmed private citizens’ rights to share religious literature at public schools.” But instead of relying on the Constitution or the courts to inform its decisions, Penn State is placing its trust in an anti-Christian, agenda-driven arm of the political Left. “The decision to remove Bibles from individual guest rooms was made following questions from the Freedom From Religion Foundation,” the Director of Strategic Communications explained. “It raised our awareness, and we took the opportunity to review our hotel practices. We wish to be respectful of all religions, and also of those who have differing beliefs, yet we still want to make the publication available to those who desire to read it while staying with us.”
After the story made headlines, university officials desperately tried to clarify, promising that “Bibles and other publications are now available in our libraries and other public access areas” — which is just another way of saying that the books, which were once in every room drawer, had been relegated to another building.
Unfortunately, Penn State isn’t the first campus to embrace the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s twisted logic. Back in February, Iowa State University pulled a similar stunt — ending a long-standing partnership with Gideons International. It’s time for Christians to stand up and demand the same “tolerance” that liberals insist they want. Surely taxpayers, who are forking over $282 million a year to Penn State, deserve that much.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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