Gideons says its Bibles save souls, but atheists want hotels to replace them with Charles Darwin's book

The Holy Bible placed in a hotel room drawer by the Gideons Society.(Gideons International)

The largest association of atheists and agnostics in the United States has asked the hotel and motel industry to offer Bible-free rooms and accused Gideons International of exploitation.

In a letter, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) urged the American Hotel & Lodging Association, whose members offer a total of 4.8 million rooms, "to offer Bible-free rooms, just as establishments now offer smoke-free rooms."

"It's time that the lodging industry just says NO to the Gideons. The Gideon Society is exploiting hotels and motels to proselytise a captive audience," it claimed.

The Gideons Society has distributed over 2 billion Bibles and New Testaments, Charisma News reported.

"It is more than just a number. We are placing Bibles because they save souls. Behind every number is a face, behind every face a story, behind every story a priceless soul that could live throughout eternity," said Gideons International President Dr. William E.G. Thomas.

In its letter, the FFRF said it prefers that hotels and motels place Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" in their rooms instead of the Bible.

The FFRF letter was sent to companies including Wyndham Worldwide, Intercontinental Hotel Groups (Holiday Inn), Choice Hotels International (Quality Inn), Hilton Worldwide, G6 Hospitality (Motel 6), Marriott International, Best Western, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (Radisson, Carlson, Country Inn) and Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Sheraton).

The 15 companies account for 33,000 hotels in the U.S. and more than 4.1 million rooms internationally.

The FFRF's Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker further claimed that "it's simply bad business to promote divisive religious teachings to a diverse clientele. Many of your guests are freethinkers — atheists, agnostics, sceptics or nones — who are offended to be charged high fees only to be proselytised in the privacy of their own bedrooms."

"Those who must read the Bible every day will surely take precautions to travel with their own copies. The rest of us deserve a break from mindless evangelising when we are on vacation," the atheists said.