A Congresswoman’s Simple Gift to Break Congressional Gridlock
Last week, we saw a rare and unprecedented move of bipartisanship as the Energy and Commerce Committee held its first hearing of the 118th Congress. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) was recently selected to chair the committee, the first woman to hold the position since its inception. The Energy and Commerce Committee was the first committee created in the House of Representatives, dating all the way back to 1795.
As McMorris Rodgers concluded the business portion of the hearing, she announced a gift to each of her colleagues on the committee:
“Finally, I wanted to give you a book, invite all of us to read through it together in 2023. It’s an all-time best-seller. I read through it for the first time a few years ago, and it changed my life. So, my encouragement is for everyone to read this book in their lifetime, so why not now, in 2023? In America, and on this committee, you know, there’s many faiths, beliefs that are represented. We cherish religious freedom and religious tolerance. This Bible is structured to be 15 minutes a day. A little Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. And I pray that it will be a blessing.”
She also gave each member a coffee mug, encouraging members to reach across the aisle, get to know one another, and form friendships for the good of the nation. McMorris Rodgers said that some of her favorite memories of her time in Congress were getting to know someone with whom she disagreed or disliked.
I submit that this is exactly what America needs. For too long, we’ve been digging in our heels and yelling at the other side, rather than taking time to get to know one another. Now, to be sure, there are fundamental issues that we should vehemently disagree on with Democrats and some Republicans. But that shouldn’t stop us from talking to one another. Rather than slandering each other in the media, it’s time to sit down to coffee and try to work out some of those differences for the common good.
The Founders had fierce political differences, but that didn’t stop them from working with each other. I’m reminded especially of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Though they were on opposite political spectrums, they shared a deep friendship that outlasted their political differences.
I’m also reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s call to prayer at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The convention had descended into shouting matches as members could not agree on representation in the new Congress. At that moment, it seemed all hope was lost of saving our new nation from the failed Articles of Confederation. It was then that an aged Benjamin Franklin rose to call the convention to prayer, a significant move given that he rarely spoke due to his old age and was not a Christian. From that point on, the convention proceeded smoothly; and we owe a great deal of thanks to Benjamin Franklin and his call to acknowledge God.
I find similarities in McMorris Rodgers’ gesture of giving a Bible to each committee member, a national best-seller that can provide peace and hope to anyone. I have had the privilege of meeting Cathy McMorris Rodgers on numerous occasions. She is deeply committed to her family and has attended my church many times while in Congress. We share the same alma mater of Pensacola Christian College, and I know her to be a woman of deep faith in God who wants the very best for our nation. She has a son with Down syndrome and cares deeply about the dignity of every individual, regardless of their religion or political affiliation. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is exactly the type of leader we need more of in Congress.
I am hopeful that this simple act will have a profound impact on the 118th Congress and beyond. Whatever problems we face — political, professional, or personal — all of the answers are found in the Bible. Tyrants have tried to destroy it, but the Word of God remains. The French philosopher Voltaire predicted that the Bible would be nothing more than a museum artifact 100 years after his death. How ironic that 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society purchased his home and used his printing presses to print thousands of Bibles.
It was our dependence on God that saved America from ruin as a young nation in 1787, and it can do so again in 2023 if we turn to Him.