Scandic did the right thing by removing the Bibles and instead creating a collection of religious and spiritual books at the front desk which travelers can choose from. Unfortunately, the "right thing" here has outraged some Christians who are absolutely convinced that they and their religion deserve to be given privileges above all other religions.
The anonymous Number Nine writes:
Mr. Olle Nordahl, Swedish head of the Gideonites, the organization who places free Bibles in hotel rooms all over the world, is devastated. [my translation:] - "We distribute Bibles because we know people are helped by it. People find comfort and support by reading the Bible."
Scandic claims that instead of a Bible in every room they will now have a set of Christian, Jewish and Muslim books available for their customers at the reception. But Mr. Nordahl feels this is not the same: – "It's the spontaneous reading of the Bible in one's darkest hour that helps the most. The Bible should be available at your room, not in the reception. Who'd walk down to the reception and wait in line to read the Bible," Mr. Nordahl asks. ...
Like Mr. Nordahl, I believe that people will not read the Bible if they have to ask for it at the reception.
Oh, dear, people might not read the Bible if they have to make any sort of effort to obtain one! How awful!
In fact, I think that these two Christians are correct: most people won't bother if they have to make an effort. This serves to demonstrate how just how little importance they attach to the Bible; indeed, if they truly cared, they'd probably have their own Bible with their own preferred translation with them. What we have here goes beyond complaints about the absence of Bibles in hotel rooms, though. We also have some important information about how Christianity maintains its hold on and dominance in society.
People won't read Bibles unless they have Bibles pushed on them and unless obtaining them is made easier by authorities. People won't go to church unless doing so is made easier by authorities. People won't bother with religion and gods unless encouraged to do so by authorities. In the end, religious institutions retain much of their power because cultural, political, social, and economic authorities push people to stick with traditional religious systems. Without such pushing, far fewer people would bother — and that's why the secularization of society is such a threat to religion and religious institutions.
When there is real competition with religion, and when people have real choices about what to do, many just won't choose religion. Religious leaders know this — make no mistake about it, they are fully aware of how activities like sports, yard work, vacations, and so forth are giving people opportunities to enjoy life outside of religious demands and that people like this. Removing privileges and preferences for religion are having a tremendous impact on the ability of religion to maintain its social, cultural, and political power.
This is where the future lies: not in simply making academic, philosophical arguments against religion, but in denying religion and religious institutions the ability to benefit from unjust privileges. Religion will lose its power not because people are convinced by arguments to become atheists, but because they are offered sufficient alternatives that are more appealing. Over the course of a couple of generations, atheism, freethought, and secularism will grow on their own.