Travelodge has decided to remove all of the Bibles from its hotel rooms because having a Christian book does not reflect Britain's "multicultural society".
The 500-strong hotel chain said it had received no complaints about the Bibles, donated by the Gideon Society, but had decided to keep Bibles behind the reception desk instead of in rooms.
A Travelodge spokesman said: “Travelodge made the decision to move copies of the Bible from its hotel rooms and place them at reception for customers to borrow.
"This decision was based on customer research and the fact that we live in a multicultural society. Therefore in order not to discriminate against any religion, customers who would like a Bible can pick a copy from any one of Travelodge’s 500 hotel reception desks across the country, whilst staying at the hotel.To date, Travelodge has not received any customer feedback regarding this decision."
A Travelodge spokesman told HuffPost UK that the policy had actually been in place since 2007, but was only now being reported.
The Church of England said in a statement that "both tragic and bizarre that hotels would remove the word of God for the sake of ergonomic design, economic incentive or a spurious definition of the word 'diversity'."
But not all Christian leaders feel that the decision was an error. "I don’t feel inclined to lament Travelodge’s decision," Kelvin Holdsworth, the provost of St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow wrote on his blog. "Indeed, I’m surprised it has taken them so long. I think they’ve probably made a choice that was inevitable. I’d rather stay in a hotel room unadorned by the beliefs of the hotel’s owners.
"Travelodge have indicated that they’d be happy to supply bibles from their front desk. And anyway, anyone with a smartphone can access the bible. Christians should be encouraging new ways of engaging with the text.
"Christianity doesn’t depend on having bibles in hotel rooms. Bibles in hotel rooms depended on Christendom, but that is now gone. I don’t think faith has much to fear.
"In all my years working in the church, I’ve never ever met anyone who talked about coming to faith as a result of reading a Gideon bible. Indeed, I’ve never encountered anyone who talked about ever reading a Gideon bible. Maybe I’m wrong but perhaps there might be strategies to get people reading the bible that might be more successful than simply leaving old fashioned bibles around."
A Premier Inn spokesman said that their hotel chain still intended to keep bibles in rooms, but "on the rare occasion that a customer does not wish to have a Bible in their room, they can request this to be removed ahead of their stay by contacting the hotel directly."