In it, but not of it. TPM DC
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.
An image of the letter is below:
Palazzo's letter was treated as a gesture of good will, including by non-Christian members of Congress who also received a copy of the Bible. The first Muslim elected to Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), wrote back with a thank-you note. His office and other offices wouldn't discuss the letter on the record.
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."
Palazzo rode into Congress on the tea party wave of 2010. He represents a deeply conservative district in southeastern Mississippi based in Biloxi. His office didn't return a message requesting to discuss the letter.