House Whip Tells Colleagues to Use Bible as Guide

Republican House Whip Steven Palazzo (MS) recently sent a Bible to every member of Congress, telling them that they should use it to guide their decision-making on public policy. Talking Points Memo has a copy of the letter he went along with the Bible.

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) enclosed the Bible in his letter dated July 29 and sent to all House and Senate offices. The letter, written on an official letterhead in his capacity as assistant majority whip, was confirmed by Capitol Hill aides whose offices received it.

“On a daily basis, we contemplate policy decisions that impact America’s future. Our staffs provide us with policy memos, statistics, and recommendations that help us make informed decisions. However, I find that the best advice comes through meditating on God’s Word,” Palazzo wrote.

“Please find a copy of the Holy Bible to help guide you in your decision-making,” the congressman continued, saying the Bibles were donated by one of his constituents from South Mississippi named J.B. Atchison…

Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, criticized the idea of using the Bible as a guide for legislating.

“When a politician calls for using the Bible as the basis for public policy, what he or she is really saying is, ‘Let’s use the Bible as I interpret it as the basis for public policy,'” Lynn said in response to Palazzo’s letter. “When it comes to religion, our nation is pluralistic and diverse. Rather than look to the Bible or any other religious book to craft our nation’s public policy, we would do well to examine another source instead, one that was actually created to guide governance. It’s called the Constitution.”

Barry is absolutely right. And the Bible is a terrible guide to public policy. If you actually followed the commands of the Bible and enforced them as public policy, we would be a theocracy, not a free country.

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  • Richard Smith

    Curious image, the whip flogging the Bible…

  • D. C. Sessions

    So he’s all for taxing the rich to pay for giving hospitality to strangers, feeding (clothing, housing, etc.) the poor, educating children, etc?

  • AndrewD

    Well, if they follow the teachings of Jesus in the New Testement they would be close to being socialists. Prehaps this should be encouraged.

  • Chiroptera

    Yes, if there is one core set of teachings that the Bible comes back to again and again, it’s how best to run a modern, advanced industrialized democratic society with a diverse population of over 300 million citizens.

    (I do agree with the Bible that we don’t do enough pidgeon sacrifices these days.)

  • wordsmatter

    And of course the Bible will be the basis for more tax cuts for billionaires, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, more military spending and cuts to programs that provide food, education and healthcare to children. Because God.

  • d.c.wilson

    But how else would our congress critters get the proper guidance they need to vote on the upcoming Stone the Gays, Adulterers*, and Disobedient Children bill?

    *Female adulterers only, of course.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    The obvious response would be to send an open list of proposed bills to every member of GOP caucus, along with the Bible verses demanding the law:

    * Outlaw football – Leviticus 11:7-8

    * Ban the fishing, farming, sale and consumption of shrimp, clams, oysters, catfish and crawdads – Leviticus 11:9-12

    * Forbid completely harvesting your fields – Leviticus 23:22

    * Death penalty to anyone who does anything that might possibly be construed as work between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday – Exodus 20:8-11, Exodus 31:14

    * Eliminate all financial planning – Matthew 6:25-34

    * Forbid charging interest – Deuteronomy 23: 19-20 (we are all brothers in Christ, right?)

    * Require all women to take up the hijab – I Corinthians 11:6

    I’d like to think someone would get the idea, but I doubt it.

  • Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    He even sent one to Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman.

    For his part, Representative Ellison thanked Rep Palazzo for the gesture.

  • John Pieret

    “Please find a copy of the Holy Bible to help guide you in your decision-making,”

    Hmmm … I wonder if that means Congress will pass a law that stoning is NOT cruel and unusual punishment or if they will go straight to an amendment to repeal the 8th Amendment?

  • chisaihana5219

    Interesting that he didn’t think most of his fellow legislators already had a Bible.

  • Michael Heath

    I was raised in a fundie/evangelical environment where I constantly heard the argument that the Bible provides advice for everything you can imagine needing advice on.

    Of course a sane person can immediately tick off examples that falsify this claim. I’m confident some believers in an inerrant Bible realized this when they encountered such rhetoric; but this argument was never challenged in my presence. I still encounter this argument in meat-world functions I attend. It’s this type of constant dialogue that leads to to churches promoting the recent delusionally idiotic movie God is Not Dead.

  • busterggi

    So no more shrimp at Republican fundraisers, right?

  • somnus

    Would it be inappropriate to ask everyone to send a copy of their favorite science fiction or fantasy novel Representative Palazzo accompanied by a letter requesting that he meditate on its contents for guidance when he formulates public policy?

  • Kevin Kehres

    Well, I completely agree with the representative. In fact, I think we should use biblical principles to deal with the current crisis of child refugees coming from central America.

    The answer is simple and biblical. Enslave them. The bible says you may take slaves from other countries. So, do it. I know — there’s that pesky 13th Amendment to deal with — but surely it wasn’t meant to trump biblical principles…was it?

    I need me a Guatemalan child slave — because I’m tired of mowing the grass and the weeds need to be pulled.

    Don’t worry, I won’t use the slave for anything anti-biblical. I mean, who would do that?

    Of course, since the bible says nothing about child pornography, one can hardly be blamed for wanting a little extra income…amiright?

  • Area Man

    Interesting that he didn’t think most of his fellow legislators already had a Bible.

    My thoughts exactly. A weird thing about fundies is that the seem to believe that millions of people just haven’t heard of the Bible or been made aware of the “good news”. That’s the only way they can explain to themselves why the whole country isn’t fundamentalist. That and “rebelling against god”. They can’t accept the possibility that people reject their beliefs on rational grounds.

  • peterh


    One must not kindle a fire on the sabbath (Ex35:3); living in a northern state this leads to some grievous consequences. Even as far south as D.C. it’s nice to have a little heat of a winter’s day.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    House Whip Tells Colleagues to Use Bible as Guide

    Interesting, but an even better headline would be:

    House Guide Tells Colleagues to Use Bible as Whip

  • fifthdentist

    I wonder what the Republican congressman who recently announced his unwed 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy will think of the part about stoning slutty family members?

  • eoraptor

    A little OT, but related to having bibles already:

    You know how observations are supposed to provide the basis for an hypothesis? I have observed* that atheist often have more bibles per household (or per capita), than Fundagelicals. I wonder if some charitable foundation, or national institute, would be willing to fund a study testing this hypothesis?

    There’s even supporting evidence. Aren’t there several studies showing that atheists are more knowledgeable about both the bible, and the history of christianity, than Xians are?

    * n=2, not randomly selected. My atheist household has six or seven, that I can remember, all of them dog-eared and spine-cracked. My talibangelical brother-in-law and family have one.

  • Chiroptera

    eoraptor, #19:

    If you want another data point: I live alone and I have three Bibles: NIV, NRSV, and NAS. (I also have KJS, but that is probably packed in a box in my mom’s place, from way back when I went to college.) I’ve also read them at least once each cover to cover.

  • cjcolucci

    Another weird aspect of this is that, unless I am misinformed, Palazzo is Catholic, as his name suggests. Catholics are notorious for not reading the Bible or knowing much about it. Indeed, the respective roles of private meditation on Scripture and the authority of the institutional Church, its experts, and its traditions is one of the main points of controversy between Catholicism and Protestantism. What kind of Catholic is this guy anyway?

  • D. C. Sessions

    My talibangelical brother-in-law and family have one.

    But he keeps his in better condition and it’s worshipped more than yours.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    cjcolucci @ # 21: What kind of Catholic is this guy anyway?

    A Mississippi Catholic pandering to a mostly Southern Baptist constituency. Notice he did not pull this stunt in a non-election year.

  • gerryl

    Don’t these folks win brownie points for time spent recruiting? Looks to me like a mass mailing effort to score points to get into heaven. Question is who paid for time and materials.

  • Area Man

    I have observed* that atheist often have more bibles per household (or per capita), than Fundagelicals. I wonder if some charitable foundation, or national institute, would be willing to fund a study testing this hypothesis?

    There are some serious confounding variables you’d need to control for. Atheists are on average well-educated and middle class or higher. These are people who tend to have more books of all kinds. Once you controlled for that, I doubt there would be much difference. Educated, middle class fundies almost certainly have Bibles all over the house, for show if nothing else.

    Aren’t there several studies showing that atheists are more knowledgeable about both the bible, and the history of christianity, than Xians are?

    Again, unless someone controlled for confounders, I wouldn’t take this too seriously. There’s little doubt in my mind though that atheists are vastly more likely to understand what the Bible says in a straight-forward way, as opposed to coming up with all kinds of wild and nonsensical interpretations in order to validate a “literal” reading of the thing. And as for the history of Xianity, that’s one thing that fundies seem to have massive blinders about.

  • eric

    @15 – if you live in an area where the door to door evangelists are particularly thick on the ground, here’s what I suggest: accept the stuff they give you. Keep it all in a box. When the next evangelist comes to the door, pull out the box and happily tell them to add their free bible/book of mormon/pamphlet to all the other bibles/books of mormon/pamphlets in the box. It should make for an amusing moment.