Sunday, December 4, 2016

Prophecy Fulfilled 001

The Book of Mormon is beautiful, miraculous, and true. I first heard that description from Neal Rappleye, Operations Manager at Book of Mormon Central. One of the salient characteristics of this divinely-inspired text is its prophetic nature. How many prophecies are contained in its pages? I have never counted, but there are hundreds. Here is one being fulfilled before our eyes.

Nephi in his closing statement describes people who "cast many things away which are written, and esteem them as things of naught." 2 Nephi 33:2. He goes on to describe people in the latter days who will not "respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed out of the mouth of the Lamb of God ..." 2 Nephi 33:14.

In other words, in our day the Bible and the Book of Mormon will be unappreciated and ignored.

In 1899, three traveling businessmen, Samuel Hill, William Knights, and John Nicholson, founded Gideons International whose mission is to distribute free copies of the Bible. I remember as a youth in Arizona being given a small Gideon Bible in grade school. In 1908 the Gideons placed a copy of the Bible in every room of the Superior Hotel (which no longer exists) in Superior, Montana. Since that time the group has become known worldwide for placing the scriptures in hotel and motel rooms, hospitals, prisons, etc. In April, 2015, The Gideons placed their historic 2 billionth copy of the Bible. (A counter displaying the number of copies of the Book of Mormon distributed worldwide is hosted here.)

J. Willard Marriott founded world's largest lodging chain. A devout Mormon, he established a policy of placing both a copy of the Book of Mormon and the Bible in every room of every Marriott property. For decades I have delighted at finding a copy of the Book of Mormon in my room as I have stayed at Courtyards, Fairmont Inns, Residence Inns, and Marriott Hotels in many nations.
The Book of Mormon and the Bible in a Marriott Property
All of that is changing. An article by Hugo Martin in the LA Times this morning announced that "More Hotels are Checking Out of the Bible Business." Marriott has decided not to place scriptures in their new Moxy and Edition brand hotels because "the religious books don't fit the personality of the brands." Moxy and Edition hotels target "fun-loving millenials." A survey by a hospitality industry analytics firm reported that the percentage of U.S. hotels with religious material in their rooms dropped from 95% in 2006 to 48% in 2016.

The article goes on to explain reasons why many lodging chains are choosing not to place the scriptures in their rooms:
  • Younger Americans are less devout than their parents or grandparents
  • Muslims and Buddhists can be offended
  • Nightstands are becoming less common in rooms
  • Atheist groups are exerting pressure
The Freedom from Religion Foundation even goes so far as to encourage their members to affix stickers on hotel room Bibles that say "Warning: Literal belief in this book may endanger your health and life."

I was in a medical office waiting room not long ago and picked up a copy of the Book of Mormon. It had one of these atheist stickers on the title page. I penned a heartfelt testimony and signed my name to the side of the sticker. Nephi's prophecy is being literally fulfilled and I like him esteem the word of God "as of great worth." 2 Nephi 33:3.