A Hotelier’s Comments on Al Mohler’s Blog About Hotels

Today Al Mohler posted an article From the Bible to “Intimacy Kits” — Goodbye to the Gideons? on his blog. As a former pastor and a current hotel manager, I found his comments interesting. I have worked with the Gideons on both sides of their Bible distribution ministry. I have invited Gideon speakers into churches. I have raised money to purchase their Bibles. I have also placed their Bibles in the hotels which I have managed. Gideon Bibles are currently in each of the 135 rooms at my current hotel in West Palm Beach, FL.

I agree with Mohler that it would be a shame if hotels ceased to place Bibles in the rooms altogether. Mohler references an article from Newsweek for his quotes and data. Like many media reports, the Newsweek article does sensationalize things a bit. For example, the main villain mentioned is the boutique hotel with a 23% increase in room volume compared to 7% increase in traditional rooms. The starting number of rooms between the two categories is not even close. So the smaller category would be much more likely to have a higher percentage increase.

My more important point of issue with Mohler’s article concerns his statement, This development is another reminder that we are living in a time of tremendous cultural and moral change. The absence of Gideons Bibles from an increasing number of hotel rooms tells us something about the secularization, sexualization, and extreme sensitivities of our age. Now, I do agree in principle with this statement. What troubles me is that the article points the finger for moral shift at the hotelier. Why?

I would like to focus instead on the “Christian” traveler. I have had some wonderful Christian men, women and groups stay in my hotels. Recently I had a wonderful time with a group of people from an Evangelical Free church in Colorado who were headed to Haiti on a mission trip. They were respectful and demonstrated Jesus in both word and action.

I have had the privilege of hosting Billy Graham and James Merritt. Both men treated staff with a very Christlike attitude. I even had the opportunity to arrange a private meeting between Billy Graham and Mohammad Ali when they both were staying in the hotel of which I was a member of the management team. I have even had opportunity to pray with travelers that were about God’s work and with people struggling to find their way. I have prayed for members of my staff when facing difficult times in life.

The problem is that these encounters have represented the minority of travelers aligned with Christianity. Many hotel managers know that church groups are usually the most difficult. They often are the cheapest, the most complaining and the most likely to give staff a difficult time. They often make it more difficult for the Christian hotel person to effectively communicate Christ to those who are not Christian.

One time I had to deal with questions of fellow staff members when a member of Mohler’s board of trustees rose early so that he could pay cash for his in room pornography before the bill was settled and sent to Southern Seminary. Here’s a tip: hotel desk agents know when you rent porn even if the titles don’t appear on your folio. The price of the porn movies is always the highest of any movie options.

In this case, it would have been nice if the trustee had chosen to read his Gideon Bible rather than watch a porn movie. Let Christian leaders work at cleaning up their own house. I know that it is necessary to point out evil in society. I just tire of the verbal attacks on those without while ignoring so much within. It only seems like certain sins are worthy of banishing those from the camp. I was banished from Southern after adulterously sinning. I just hope that Christians will take serious the virtues of gentleness, kindness, etc. when they travel. The end result might be that more hoteliers might place even more Bibles in the rooms and also contribute to other Christian causes. I have been known to provide complimentary rooms to graceful Christians on mission. Let’s hope hoteliers have opportunity to do even more.