A company that manages university accommodation has been branded “anti-Christian” after refusing to allow Gideon Bibles to be placed in bedrooms.
Digs, which manages student halls for Huddersfield University, defended the ban saying it wants its properties to be “ethically neutral”.
But the Revd Mike Smith, a former church minister in Huddersfield, said it was an “anti-Christian step”.
He pointed out that Gideon Bibles are commonplace in hotels, hospitals and prisons across the country.
He said: “Banning bibles is not ‘ethically neutral’. It is a positive anti-Christian step, and could be the edge of a very dangerous wedge.”
Digs said the ban was necessary because many of its residents were international students.
Robyn Towning, marketing manager for Digs, which is responsible for the 1,386 capacity Storthes Hall Park for Huddersfield University, said: “I don’t think the measure is anti-Christian; it’s our job to be neutral.”
Mr Towning said that the Gideon Bibles would be available in reception alongside the Koran if students wanted to access them.
In August, schools in a region of Canada were forced to change their policies on distributing Gideon Bibles following a challenge by an atheist.
Rene Chouinard took his case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after he complained about Bibles being handed out at his daughter’s school.
David Wright, Associate Chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, ruled that schools in the Niagara area could only hand out Gideon Bibles if they developed a new policy allowing the distribution of atheist material.
Last year a hotel in Newcastle upon Tyne announced it was introducing electronic Bibles to replace hard copies of the Gideon Bible.
All 148 rooms at Hotel Indigo have been equipped with a Kindle e-reader that has been pre-loaded with a copy of the Bible.
The scheme has the full support of the Gideons, who in 2011 distributed more than 84 million printed copies of the Bible around the world to students, members of the military and hotels.