A House Republican from Mississippi, Steven Palazzo, recently sent a bible to every member of Congress to “help guide them in their decision-making.”
A Republican congressman recently sent a copy of the Holy Bible to every member of Congress “to help guide you in your decision-making,” according to a letter obtained by TPM.
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.
Separation of church and state? What’s that? What would I have written back to Palazzo upon receiving his letter and his bible?
I received your letter and your bible. Though I read through the bible cover to cover a few times in my youth, it has been a while. That a lawmaker in one of the highest positions in the United States, a position that implies some level of competence, has sent it to me as a guide for decision-making on running a country in the 21st century made me wonder if there was something I missed all those years ago. So I put down the report on climate change sent to me by a coalition of science organizations and cracked open the bible.
In the very first chapter I see that the earth is made before the stars. Surely you don’t believe that, Steve? Even worse, birds and whales come before reptiles and insects. That’s not how it happened at all. What’s more, how could plants drive photosynthesis since they came before stars?
And god gave humans dominion over every other living thing on the earth? How, exactly, did he give us dominion over all the species that came (and went extinct) before us? And after that it says that god gave us every herb and every tree for…meat. Even if it’s just being metaphorical, do you know how many plants have evolved poisons and other means to keep us from eating them?
So admittedly I’m confused. Surely you don’t want us to legislate science based on anything in this book as it flies in the face of science from the very beginning. I find myself wondering if you sending me this book was a joke.
As I read further I find the cure for leprosy:
Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient’s right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird’s blood. Wipe some blood on the patient’s right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood 7 times.
– Leviticus 14:2-52
Were we faced with an outbreak of leprosy rather than Ebola, it would be an act of utter insanity to draw our strategy from the pages of the bible. Thankfully scientists, working with only their mortal minds, have found solutions to leprosy and other problems. To ignore their findings and suggestions to defer to the bible in the event of a leprosy outbreak would demonstrate a complete failure in our capacity as leaders. Thankfully, the bible is silent on how to cure Ebola so we needn’t even have the completely unnecessary fight of who should dictate our policy on medicine: modern scientists or an anonymous writer from thousands of years ago who was ignorant of virtually every human discovery. To me the choice seems clear, but I guess you do things differently in Mississippi.
Now I’m at the ten commandments, almost all of which would be illegal in America. No other gods? You know what the word “liberty” means, right? No graven images? You understand that religious liberty is not a one-way street, right Steve? So not only would god’s rules not fit in a pluralistic society, I see this god character also commanded that people breaking many of these edicts should be murdered without trial? Are you sick, Steve? Nobody wants to live in this society.
It is at this point you would probably say that Jesus unmade all this lunacy. For one thing, by using that argument you’re saying that at one time killing someone for worshiping another god was the right thing to do (up until Jesus came along). If you believe that, then you’re not legislating on what is best for humanity. Since I want to legislate based on what makes societies flourish, I must reject your advice and the bible’s, since we clearly have different priorities.
But did Jesus really unmake it? I mean, is worshiping another god ok now? I ask because I’m told that you’ll burn in hell forever if you do, so I’m not sold that Jesus reversed the injustice of the old testament. In fact, by the light of hell, he seems to have made it much, much worse.
So Steve, if you really wanted me to integrate the bible into my voting practices, I must decline and I hope you do the same. We need to be legislating based on the sum of human knowledge, and the bible simply does not represent that. In many ways it contradicts that. If I am to be honest, I’m feeling a tremendous swell of resentment that I lost time reading about climate change from modern scientists to indulge your book of shoddy morality and incorrect science. We have 20 bills to vote on next week and I still have to get to the CDC’s report on the Ebola outbreak I mentioned above. Suffice to say that my time is extremely valuable. My trust in you was clearly misplaced. You sending me this book was either a joke in poor taste or an assertion that you are unfit to inform our laws. Either way, my proficiency as a legislator has suffered for indulging you.
It seems more likely to me that this was a political stunt and that you are using your position of responsibility to all citizens to evangelize your specific religion. As a lawmaker who takes the burden of representing all citizens equally, whatever their religious beliefs, and who takes this office very seriously, I am disgusted and offended at your behavior. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Sincerely, very sincerely,
Rep. JT Eberhard (I-Internet)