Democratic Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton has been caught via security cameras hiding Bibles in the members-only lounge of Arizona’s statehouse. According to The Christian Post, Hamilton apparently swiped the Bibles from the lounge, burying one in the lounge furniture while putting another in the community refrigerator. Although Hamilton herself declined to comment in response to media outreach, her office released a claim that her actions were “just a little playful commentary on the separation of church and state.”
Hamilton stated, “I am a Presbyterian minister, so I obviously don’t have a problem with the Bible.” However, what Hamilton does have a problem with is simply history. The phrase, “separation of church and state,” does not prohibit Bibles from being left out on tables in a lounge of a statehouse. The presence of Bibles in a building has nothing to do with Jefferson’s intentions when he penned the phrase in his letter, and it cannot be used to defend Hamilton’s actions.
According to FOX News, the lounge is a place where House members can take a call or meet with colleagues or senior staff members between votes. The lounge had no cameras, and it was after they were installed that Hamilton was discovered oddly sneaking around the room in an effort to hide Bibles that were on display.
Republican Pro-Tempore Speaker Travis Grantham argued that Hamilton was acting like someone with a purpose who had intent, noting that sneaking around meant she knew she was doing something wrong. Grantham also pointed out that Arizona’s state motto is “Ditat Deus” meaning “God Enriches” and questioned why and how they were removed in the first place.
Issuing an apology on the House floor on Wednesday, Hamilton maintained that her actions were simply “playful.” In addition to apologizing for her wrongful actions, the state lawmaker also should have apologized for either not respecting the rights of Americans, including those of lawmakers, or not knowing them.