The Real Reason There Are Bibles In Hotel Rooms

Consider, for a moment, the Gideon Bible. It's the closest you'll get to something you can find in every hotel room without the use of a blacklight. Chances are that at some point, you've been rudderlessly rooting around the drawers of a Motel 6 and found a thick stack of Christianity staring up at you, essentially daring you to find something more interesting on the basic cable channels available to you in Billings, Montana. But how did every seedy, back-alley hole in the wall motel wind up with a printed reminder that you shouldn't do the things that people do in seedy, back-alley hole in the wall motels?

According to The Gideons, the whole thing started in 1899 when three like-minded businessmen founded a group. Their names were John Nicholson, Samuel E. Hill, and William Knights. A year previous, Nicholson and Hill met when they were forced to share a room in a crowded hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin. Somehow, a conversation between the two managed to meander on over to the subject of religion, and they spent a good portion of the night praying together.

They pray on the weak

The fellas kept in touch, eventually joining forces with Knights to form a coalition of like-minded evangelists on a mission to spread their holy whatnots. A quick prayer session led to their calling themselves The Gideons after the Old Testament character who led a small army to victory over a larger one. In 1908, they started "The Bible Project" with the stated purpose of putting a Bible in every hotel room in the United States.

In the years that followed, the Gideons have reportedly placed nearly 2 billion Bibles in hotel rooms across the world, as well as "hospitals, convalescent homes, medical offices, domestic violence shelters, prisons, and jails." They also cheerfully replace any of their books that are worn out or MIA, all through donations.