Note to Atheists at

Gideon ExposedPhotography by D. Plasman

Hi folks! I recently stayed at a hotel near Detroit’s airport. When I opened the drawer of the night stand, I found, as expected, a hardcover Bible placed there by Gideons International. When I opened the front cover, I was surprised to find a sticker, nearly the size of the entire page, entitled GIDEON EXPOSED!

I read your 150-word summary of the biblical character Gideon and your subsequent thrashing of all things religious. I applaud you for actually having read that portion of the Bible that deals with this Hebrew judge. Everything you pointed out regarding his flawed, at times horrific, behavior is true according to the biblical record. Gideon was a ruthless warrior who, if alive today, would be tried for war crimes at The Hague Court.

You go on to conclude that Gideons International and all religious organizations and clergy are pretty much in the business of “hoodwinking” gullible people. You suggest that the world would be better off if we simply bagged religion and stopped believing in this childish notion of a supreme being. Hence the name of your organization: Freedom From Religion Foundation (

In full disclosure, I’ve been a member of the Christian clergy since 1980. Some of my dearest friends are avowed atheists. I love and respect them. More to the point, if I were embarking on a week-long road trip, I’d much prefer the company of an atheist than that of a Fundamentalist Christian who might try to convince me that the creation story of Genesis 1 disproves the theory of evolution.

I’m pretty sure a fair number of atheists were members of every congregation I served. I’m also compelled to admit that in any given month, the number of hours I spend never thinking about God can total anywhere between 5-25 days.

So, here’s why I’m writing you. Do you really want to be known as the organization that sneaks around hotel rooms, slapping full page stickers on Bibles placed there free of charge by the Gideons? That’s just not cool!

When I was in Junior High gym class, some buddies and I would sneak up behind unsuspecting male peers and pull down their shorts. It started out as a cool thing to do, but “cool” soon wore off. What you’re doing isn’t cool either.

Nobody can fault you for exposing all the bad shit that’s been done in the name of religion. Organizations like yours prompt me to examine and, if need be, let go of those religious handles that aren’t worth holding.

Without trying to convert you, I offer a few suggestions. Read something from The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Anything! He’s just one of countless God-believers who made the world a better place because he believed in a supreme being. Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Prophets might influence you as profoundly as it did me. Currently, I’m reading Jimmy Carter’s new book: A Call to Action – Women, Religion, Violence, and Power. It’s a serious critique of misguided religion. I commend it to your reading.

One more thing. I tried to remove your full-page sticker from the hotel Bible, but it made a mess of the inside cover. That got me even more ticked off at your organization, and that’s not cool either.


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