Things That Matter

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Organization Spreading The Bible Via Hotel Rooms Around The World

There are some things that are just so normal, we never question how it came to be normalized. One day, historians will ponder this in regards to immigrant detention camps in America, but I digress. Once upon a time, the dusty drawer in your hotel room’s nightstand laid bare. That trusty Holy Bible was nowhere to be found, and likely, people weren’t looking for it.

So in a capitalist economy like the U.S.’s where supply and demand reign as the key influencers in the world around us, how did every hotel in America, and, subsequently, the world, come to guard a Bible? We highly doubt that reading the Bible on your vacation is anywhere nearly as commonplace as the actual Bibles. Here’s what we found out.

It all started in the fall of 1898 when two traveling salesmen met in a Wisconsin hotel room…

By Jonathunder – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

John H. Nicholson of Janesville, Wisconsin and Samuel E. Hill of Beloit, Wisconsin found themselves as strangers in a crowded Central Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin. The two ended up being forced to share a room. The two shared pleasantries and soon realized they were both devout Evangelical Christians. They joked about creating an association of traveling Christian businessmen.

The following May, they met again at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin to firm up their idea: create a men’s group for traveling Christian salesmen.

“A Lasting Vision.” Digital Image. Gideons. 10 September 2019.

That July, Nicholson and Hill brought a third member, William J. Knights, to a YMCA in Janesville. There, they hoped to recruit more members, but nobody else would join them. Their first meeting was just the three of them, during which they divvied up roles. Hill would be the President, Knights the Vice President, and Nicholson the Treasurer and Secretary. 

They prayed together on a name and Knights heard God’s answer: “We shall be called Gideons.”

Untitled. Digital Image. Gideons. 10 September 2019.

The Book of Judges shares the story of a man named Gideon who was recruited by God to lead his small army of 300 men against an enormous army. Their faith led them to gain victory over the much larger army. Their membership grew over the years, mainly consisting of traveling Christian businessmen. 

In 1908, they started leaving the first free Bibles in hotel rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. Today, the organization has grown to 200 countries, territories, and possessions and is known as Gideons International. Its website maintains that the foundation is based on a perceived need that “people today need someone to come alongside them in finding their way to true salvation that is available only through the grace of God.”

Still, only men are allowed to hand out Bibles. Women can only serve as auxiliaries to the men, as their wives.

“A Unique Focus” Digital Image. Gideons. 10 September 2019.

The organization boasts more than 269,500 Gideons and distribution of over 2 billion Bibles around the world. Gideons International describes themselves as “an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments.” The organization acknowledges that they’re best known for leaving Bibles in hotels, but want you to know that they also “place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them.” 

To elaborate, they also distribute Bibles to “hotels, motels, hospitals, convalescent homes, medical offices, domestic violence shelters, prisons, and jails.” Also, members of The Gideons will personally hand out a free Bible to “police, fire, and medical personnel; prisoners; military personnel; students in the fifth grade and above.”

This is where it gets even more cringy.

“A Worldwide Impact.” Digital Image. Gideons. 10 September 2019.

Their website is littered with images of Black children in presumably African nations holding up free Bibles. The Gideons were founded by a group of white men and has evolved into a group of men “and their wives” proselytizing to young children of color. The presumption that their culture’s spirituality trumps another’s is spiritual colonization of the 21st century. In fact, the ACLU has gotten involved in a case against Gideons International for going into public schools and proselytizing to children in the 5th grade and above. 

But, hey, we’re glad our abuelas are comforted by the free spiritual literature found in their hotel rooms.

Credit: Public Domain

Next time they thank God for the Bible in their hotel room drawer, you can remind her that the man who placed the Bible there, wouldn’t allow her to hand the same treasured book to someone else.

READ: 10 Folk Religions You Didn’t Know Existed In Latin America And The Caribbean

The Latina Muslim Foundation Is Raising Money To Give Muslim Asylum Seekers A Place To Worship In Tijuana

Culture

The Latina Muslim Foundation Is Raising Money To Give Muslim Asylum Seekers A Place To Worship In Tijuana

Scott Sherrill-Mix / Flickr

It may come as a surprise to some but in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, the population of Muslim migrants as well as Mexican converts to Islam are growing. While some have arrived there from other countries, many are waiting as they seek asylum in the U.S. due to President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. All of this has resulted in a rising number of Muslims that are looking for any kind of shelter or housing situation while they wait.

Making the situation more difficult is adjusting to life in a foreign land. Some have arrived from places as far as Syria, Togo, Somalia, and Ghana. Then there are the constant stares from strangers when they see a hijab and the ensuing questions about it. 

The toughest aspect for Muslims in Tijuana is finding a place to pray throughout the day. There is currently only one mosque, the Playas de Tijuana, in the city which has made this a challenge, especially for migrants living in shelters.

This is why Sonia Garcia, the founder of the Latina Muslim Foundation is currently raising money to build a shelter for Muslim migrants and deported women.

Credit: @themuslimvibe / Twitter

Garcia knows firsthand about the struggles that many in the growing Muslim community in Tijuana are facing. She was born in the city and was raised as a Catholic before converting to Islam. Like many of the other Muslim women that have arrived in Tijuana, Garcia knows how hard it is to navigate through the city.  

“They don’t know the food, the culture, the language,” Garcia told the San Diego Tribune. “It is very difficult for them. People thought I was Arabic. They asked why I was in Tijuana.”

This is why Garcia and Mayte Gutierrez, another Latina who has converted to Islam, have put forth efforts to help the growing Muslim community near the border city. Their plan is to raise awareness and money to build a permanent shelter for Muslim migrants and deported women. They see the shelter as a place where migrants can receive help with their social services, receive medical care and most importantly, an area where they can come to pray. 

Those at the Latina Muslim Foundation hope that the shelter becomes a hub of some sort where all Muslims in the local area can come together to connect and celebrate their religion all while feeling more at home in Mexico. But it won’t be that easy without support.

For years both Garcia and Gutierrez have been doing whatever they can to help when Muslim migrants arrive in Tijuana. Now, they need the help of others to raise money for this much-needed shelter.

Credit: The Latina Muslim Foundation / Facebook

Garcia says that the organization is currently planning to purchase a nearby warehouse that is located about 10 minutes away from the U.S.-Mexico border. They plan to transform it into a large two-story shelter that will have room for social workers and lawyers, a kitchen, showers and a room for prayer that will have multiple copies of the Quran. 

As of now, the organization has found a location for the shelter as well as a blueprint by an architect and a group of volunteers that are willing to provide free legal and social services. 

“The only thing we need is the money,” Garcia says. 

Currently, the Latina Muslim Foundation has raised close to $30,00 but said it needs a total of roughly $250,000 to have enough for their entire project. They are currently raising money by reaching out to people online through a fundraiser. 

“We are seeking to purchase a warehouse where the need is most great, thereby being able to provide these individuals with a place to stay, eat, and learn skills where they can make themselves marketable in order to find a job to maintain themselves and their families.  We will also have a musala located in this facility so that prayer can be established 5 times a day, Islamic studies classes can be given, and the Quran can be taught,” the fundraising page reads. 

With a growing population of asylum seekers, the shelter situation in Tijuana is also growing worse. So Gutierrez sees the Latina Muslim Foundation’s goal of building this shelter as dire. 

“There exists a big gap of misunderstanding, of ignorance,” Gutierrez said. “Being Latino, being Muslim, we can connect.”

READ: 2019 Has Been The Year Of Body Positivity: Get To Know The Plus Size Latinas Who Are Leading The Body Positive Game By Example

This Museum Has Outfitted A Hotel Suite Dedicated To The Monsters Of Guillermo Del Toro And It’s Terrifying

Entertainment

This Museum Has Outfitted A Hotel Suite Dedicated To The Monsters Of Guillermo Del Toro And It’s Terrifying

Hotels.com

Academy Award-winning director of The Shape of Water and Pan’s Labyrinth Guillermo del Toro wants you to spend the night in his Monster Suite this October. “En Casa Con Mis Monstruos,” is an exhibit curated by the director and inspired by his stunningly sinister imagination. The Monster Suite is a hotel room in collaboration with the horror-filled exhibit and Hotels.com — yes, it is the hotel room you would scream at the characters in the film to run from. 

To create the exhibit at the Museo de las Artes he worked with a team of artists, craftsmen, and actors to recreate the nightmarish lucid dreams he had as a little boy in Guadalajara, Mexico. Unlike other exhibits, instead of following a chronological order, del Toro’s is arranged thematically. The journey begins with visions of death and the afterlife, then continues with an exploration of the occult, magic, and monsters. It finishes up with representations of innocence and redemption. 

“I seek to promote in young artists love for images and remind them that encouragement and inspiration can come from academia or popular culture. Hopefully and in some corner of this visit, they will find inspiration in the monstrous, the dark and the forgotten,” del Toro stated

The hotel room is an extension of the exhibit and is even on the museum grounds. Those who manage to book a reservation will get a night tour of  “En Casa Con Mis Monstruous.” 

En Casa Con Mis Monstruos 

Guillermo del Toro, one of the masters of horror, has brought his nightmares to life with the “En Casa Con Mis Monstruos” exhibit at the Museo de las Artes in Guadalajara, Mexico. The exhibit features almost 1,000 installations from the legendary director’s films, comics, and personal collection curated from Bleak House, del Toro’s very own shrine of horror artifacts. 

“To find beauty in the profane. To elevate the banal. To be moved by genre. These things are vital for my storytelling,” says Guillermo del Toro. “This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life.”

It sounds so poetic till you remember it’s all gonna scare the crap out of you!

The Monster Suite

In collaboration with Museo de las Artes and Hotels.com, comes del Toro’s Monster Suite. The suite features a doll that is obviously going to wake up at night and kill you, bell jars with body parts, gas masks, photos of body organs, and strange creatures with massive horns. 

“Looking for an out-of-this-world spooky hotel stay? We have a spot for you – if you dare!” The statement on Hotels.com reads. “The Monster Suite is a hauntingly beautiful hotel suite inspired by the monsters from the fantastical world of Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro. Before they tuck in for the night with their new monster BFFs, guests will also take an exclusive nocturnal tour of the “En Casa Con Mis Monstruos” exhibit.”

Guests will get an exclusive tour of the clearly haunted museum at night. If this were a horror movie, I would say: do not do this. You will die. What if someone is disguised as a monster and you think it’s a part of the exhibit? Then they do something horrifying like try to talk to you to express their shared interest in del Toro films — terrifying, my social anxiety can’t take it!

The room is only available for three nights October 3, 4, and 5 — and they’re already booked. I would love to meet these freaks. The room is located directly on the museum grounds so not only do you have to worry about the demons inside of the room, but the demons outside of the room. Human beings are monsters enough! Aye! I swear if one of the monsters looks like Mitch McConnell my soul will leave its body. 

At Home With Monsters

“Everyone wants to spend the night with monsters, right? The bold and daring can soon book the ‘Monster Suite,’ a room inspired by Guillermo del Toro,” Hotels.com captioned the photo. 

The creepy video footage of the hotel features the horrifying porcelain doll, hands emerging from walls, and some kind of horned demon. I don’t know if I would want to wake up and see that doll looking at me on the edge of the bed, but I am not cut from the same cloth as horror buffs. The room is supposed to evoke del Toro’s frightening sensibilities with a dark Victorian motif, fantastical elements, crimson-liquid filmed vials, and severed limbs. 

My only request is that if a fish-man falls in love with you, don’t leave him on read. He has feelings too. It’s hard out there for fish-boys.