The conclusion of the mystery surrounding the case of vanishing Bibles in the Arizona House's members-only lounge revealed an unlikely culprit: a Democrat state lawmaker who also happens to be an ordained minister.
Security had installed cameras to discover why Bibles kept disappearing from the lounge in the statehouse in Pheonix. The camera footage obtained by 3TV showed Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton swiping two Bibles from the lounge.
The House security team also discovered one Bible buried in the lounge furniture and another in the community refrigerator, according to 3TV.
According to Hamilton's campaign website, the state lawmaker completed her master's of divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
As the outlet reported Tuesday, Hamilton declined multiple requests for comment and hung up the phone in response to an inquiry from 3TV. A reporter for 3TV, David Caltabiano, shared a video Tuesday of him confronting Hamilton and asking for an explanation. Hamilton declined to comment and walked away from the reporter.
The Arizona representative's office later sent a statement to the outlet, with Hamilton claiming that her actions were "Just a little playful commentary on the separation of church and state."
"I am a Presbyterian minister, so I obviously don't have a problem with the Bible," she stated.
Hamilton's office did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.
On Wednesday, Hamilton issued an apology on the House floor, admitting that to some, her actions "could be seen as something less than playful." So far, no complaints about Hamilton and the incident with the Bibles have been made to leadership, according to 3TV.
According to a Fox News report, the Arizona House of Representatives received word on March 23 about the disappearance of two Bibles on display in the lounge.
The lounge serves as a space for House members to take a call or meet with colleagues or senior staff members in between votes. While guests are permitted in the lounge, an escort must accompany them inside, according to Fox News.
Security team members searched the lounge after learning that the Bibles were missing, finding them hidden underneath the cushions of two chairs. Another Bible disappeared a week later and was eventually discovered inside a refrigerator, according to the outlet.
A statehouse source told Fox News that, unlike most communal areas in the House building, the lounge had no cameras. In an effort to discover the reason behind the disappearing Bibles, the security team placed temporary cameras in the lounge. On April 10, the cameras caught Hamilton hiding a pair of Bibles beneath two couches in the lounge.
In response to the incident, one of Hamilton's Republican colleagues, Rep. Austin Smith, tweeted a picture of a Bible on Tuesday.
"This Bible marked safe from Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton," he wrote, including a green checkmark with the tweet.
Republican Pro-Tempore Speaker Travis Grantham questioned Hamilton's motivation for hiding the Bibles.
"When I'm watching that, I'm thinking, 'Well, this is obviously someone who's got some purpose and some intent, and they know they're doing something bad," he said, as 3TV reported.
Grantham also highlighted the Arizona state motto, "Ditat Deus," which means "God Enriches." The Republican questioned why it was even an issue to have Bibles in the lounge for members to potentially read.