It’s disturbing enough that a Christian ministry called Capitol Commission gifted South Dakota legislators with their own bibles last weekend. What’s especially troubling is that those bibles were stamped with the state’s official seal, suggesting an illegal endorsement that isn’t actually there.
The use of the state seal is controlled by the Secretary of State’s office. According to [“State Minister” Jarvis] Wipf, Capitol Commission received permission to use the seal’s image from former Secretary of State Shantel Krebs in December 2018. “They were intended to be a unique gift for the legislators.” Wipf said.
So the government gave permission for a Christian group to use the symbol. Would they have said the same thing to a Muslim group that wanted to give personal Qur’ans to lawmakers?
One of the Republicans who received a copy of the South Dakota Bible, State Senator Jeff Monroe, didn’t seem to care about the entanglement right in front of him.
… Senator Monroe did not comment on whether he thought marking a religious book with a state seal was appropriate or not, and did not see his using one as being a tacit approval.
“I have no problem with [the Bible]… People get to distribute what they want, basically, to our desks.” He said.
Again, I doubt he would have responded the same way if this was a non-Christian holy book.
The question isn’t why the legislators took the bibles; it’s why the secretary of state gave permission for the Christians to do this. One possibility, according to the Capital Journal, is that the non-profit ministry used the seal in an “artistic” way. It’s legal for people to use it in that capacity, like for satirical purposes. This one arguably falls outside the definition of any artistic vision. It’s just an implied endorsement that shouldn’t be there. Because of that, the legislators should have said no to the gifts.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Original image via Shutterstock)