Complaint prompts Utah’s Dixie State University to remove Bible, Book of Mormon from hotel rooms

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) The Book of Mormon is shown Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, Salt Lake City. Sheraton, Westin and other Starwood hotels are finding their religion. Marriott International, which bought Starwood two years ago, has begun putting copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in Sheratons, Westins and other hotels in the Starwood family.

After a complaint from a group that tracks what it sees as violations of the separation of church and state, prompted Dixie State Inn, a hotel associated with the state-owned southern Utah university, to remove all copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon from guest rooms.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation alerted Dixie State’s president about the problem in June, who then turned it over to the St. George school’s lawyers to consider.

The group reminded Dixie that the establishment clause of U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment forbids public schools from promoting, endorsing or advancing any religion.

After an in-depth analysis by Alison Vicroy, the university’s assistant general counsel, the school asked the inn to take the religious texts out of individual guest rooms.

That was “an appropriate course of action,” Dixie State spokeswoman Jyl Hall said Monday. “The university doesn’t want either the appearance or the reality of advancing one religion over another.”

Copies of the Bible and Book of Mormon, the latter being The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ signature scripture, Hall said, are still available at the front desk.

Bibles, often supplied by Gideons International, are commonly found in privately owned hotels. Marriott International, whose founders are Latter-day Saints, bought Starwood (which includes Sheraton and Westin outlets) two years ago and plans to place copies of the Bible and Book of Mormon in 300,000 rooms in its newly acquired hotels by year’s end, according to The Associated Press.