Like many other FFRF members who attended the convention in San Francisco, Life Member Steven Lowe contacted the front desk at the Hyatt Regency to request there be no bible in his room. (FFRF always requests that the rooms where members will be staying are bible-free, but that request was not fulfilled completely.)
“I always ask for a ‘religion-free’ room when I make a reservation,” Lowe said. “It usually doesn’t work (because most hotels don’t pre-assign rooms before you check in). But, it puts it in the system. When I find the bibles, I always return them to the front desk and ask to speak to a manager and convey, civilly, a complaint. I send a similar letter to most hotels where I stay and find a bible.”
After getting a “welcome to the hotel” email from the Hyatt’s reservations manager, Lowe sprang into secular action. Below is the (edited for clarity) email chain that helped get the bibles removed from the rooms.
Welcome to the hotel! I just wanted to touch base and see if there was anything I could do to ensure everything is to your satisfaction during your stay.
Thank you for asking. The hotel is wonderful with great architecture and service, so far. My only problem, the same problem I have at many hotels, is your policy of placing religious materials (a Protestant Christian bible) presumptively in your guest rooms. Why do you do this? Do you favor or prefer Christians (that’s the way it looks, since you provide only one religion’s text or materials)? Why do you presume all of your guests are Christian? (We aren’t). Why don’t you think this would not be off-putting or even offensive to non-Christians? (It is.) Why do you risk offending ANY client in this way? Are you suggesting that we should all become Christian? Probably not, but it could be implied. I would prefer a religion-free room from any hospitality vendor, including Hyatt. I am asking you to stop doing this. If you must, please consider keeping these books (and others of other religions) at your front desk and make them available upon request by a guest. As a world-class hospitality vendor, you should not be presuming the religion or the religious needs of your guests, or favoring one over others. I am going to return this unwanted book, with its unwelcome implied message, to the Front Desk with a complaint. Please feel free to share my feedback with your general manager, who can, perhaps, decide to change your presumptive pro-Christian (and anti-non-Christian) policy.
Apologies for the uncomfortable position that we put you by having that in the room. We certainly meant no offense by that. The bibles are provided free of charge by another company and we never meant for it to make anyone uncomfortable. Due to your concerns, however, we are reviewing our policies to adopt a more global perspective. Hyatt is very sensitive to all religions, creeds, genders, and we strive to empathize with everyone to make for the most caring and comfortable place to stay. And just because this policy has been around for a long time doesn’t mean it is the correct one. Again, I want to sincerely apologize and see if there is any way we can do to make your stay more enjoyable and more welcoming.
Thank you for your reply. I encourage and hope that you will modify your policy. It matters not that the bibles are free to you. You are still making the decision to place and replace them in your guest rooms. This action speaks of your decision and position. Make your rooms welcoming to all. Have the courage to be secular and to end this traditional yet biased practice. My only request is that you keep me informed as to your decision to keep or change your policy regarding the placement of religious books in your guest rooms. Thank you.
I just wanted to let you know that we are removing all the bibles from the rooms in the hotel. We certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone by having them in there, but in the interest of a more universal viewpoint and out of respect for you and your group, we will be taking them out of the rooms for the foreseeable future. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns and I will be happy to assist with anything during your stay.
Well, I am impressed with the speed with which you were able to make this policy change. And I couldn’t be happier with your decision. I hope the “foreseeable future” is forever. Thank you and congratulations. All are welcome.