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Jan 31 2012

Pennsylvania Declares Year of the Bible

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted last week to declare 2012 the “year of the Bible.” And they voted for it unanimously, a 193-0 vote. And the whole thing is standard-issue Christian nation nonsense. Here’s the full text:

WHEREAS, The Bible, the word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people; and

WHEREAS, Deeply held religious convictions springing from the holy scriptures led to the early settlement of our country; and

WHEREAS, Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, Many of our great national leaders, among them President Washington, President Jackson, President Lincoln,
President Wilson and President Reagan, paid tribute to the influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as
exemplified by the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests”; and

WHEREAS, The history of our country clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the scriptures in the lives of individuals, families and societies; and

WHEREAS, This nation now faces great challenges that will test it as it has never been tested before; and

WHEREAS, Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people;
therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives declare 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania in recognition of both the formative influence of the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you should vote against anyone who voted for this resolution. Either they believe this crap or they chose to vote for it out of political cowardice.

33 comments

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  1. 1
    congenital cynic

    Not a single negative vote? I wonder what the split is between the “true believers” and the pre-chordates?

    I really worry about your country. I worry about ours too, but you lot have such a plethora of wingnuts in public office that I sometimes wonder if you can recover the situation any time soon.

  2. 2
    Randomfactor

    Well, I hope it does encourage folks to read the damned thing. Causes a lot of atheism.

  3. 3
    Abby Normal

    If you live in Pennsylvania, you should vote against anyone who voted for this resolution.

    What makes you think the people running against them wouldn’t also vote for this?

  4. 4
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    How nice of these brave men and women, in their official capacities as elected officials representing their constituents, come together as a unified body, with all the power and majesty of their offices combined, to tell all non-christians in the state that this is not your country, you are not welcome here.

    Seriously? They couldn’t find one single vertebrate among them?

  5. 5
    duck1887

    Well, yes, but I can think of more than a few people (*cough*Newt*cough*) whom it could benefit “to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures” (as opposed to the writings of St. Alinsky, as we have discussed earlier).

  6. 6
    parasiteboy

    From a constitutional “separation of church and state” perspective, how are declarations like this legal?

    Secondly, they clearly don’t beleive WHEREAS,

    The history of our country clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the scriptures in the lives of individuals, families and societies; and

    Finally does anyone know the reference for the journal article that breaks down the writings of the founding fathers and shows that they used enlightenment ideas when writing the bill of rights/constitution as compared to their other writings which were more biblical based?

  7. 7
    peterh

    @ #6:

    Unconstitutional? More than likely. But how about just plain wrong?

  8. 8
    slc1

    Rather interesting that Adams, Jefferson, and Madison are conspicuously absent from the 4th whereas.

  9. 9
    Pierce R. Butler

    The Bible: a big fat book, the reading of which may well take some people 11 months.

    I find it encouraging that the Pennsylvania state legislature wants to set a non-trivial literacy challenge. Let’s encourage the other states to do the same: California can declare 2012 the year of The Hobbit, Florida can make this the year of Another Roadside Attraction, Texas can establish the year of My Pet Goat, etc…

  10. 10
    grumpyoldfart

    You Americans make me laugh.

  11. 11
    heironymous

    This is grotesque.

  12. 12
    Jordan Genso

    That the House of Representatives declare 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania in recognition of… our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.

    What does “establishment of religion” mean in CDE*?

    *Conservative Doppleganger English: looks just like English, but the words mean something completely different.

  13. 13
    Draken

    So, can/will someone fight this in court?

  14. 14
    Michael Heath

    The first Whereas:

    WHEREAS, The Bible, the word of God . . .

    That seems to clearly be an unconstitutional breach of limited power, in direct violation of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause. I would hope the following PA citizens: secularists, non-Christian religionists, and even many Christians, would band together and challenge this abuse of government power in federal court.

  15. 15
    Orakio

    I have the distinct unpleasantness of being “represented” by one of these toads. I will be letting him know my disapproval. I have little hope of it meaning anything to the man, however, as he is a graduate of Liberty University…

  16. 16
    Orakio

    And, a double post, but a quick scan tells me that not only is this illegal under the US constitution, it is illegal under the PA constitution, Article 1, section 3:

    All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.

  17. 17
    eric

    From a constitutional “separation of church and state” perspective, how are declarations like this legal?

    I would guess that symbolic gestures like this would fall under the ceremonial/insignificance category that SCOTUS has made.

    I would also guess that practically every state legislature declares practically every year the ‘year of’ something. And that they also have ‘months of’ and even occasionally ‘days of’. We just don’t hear about them because 99% of the time, nobody cares. The very ubiquity gives it a kind of meaninglessness.

    Probably the best way to undermine it is with ridicule: have some legislator propose that next year be the year of silly walks, or banana slugs, or something like that, just to highlight how farcicle it is to have legislators spending their time and your tax dollars doing things like this.

    Ed would’ve liked some legislators to vote against it. Not me. I think a much better action by a responsible legislator would’ve been to not even show up for the vote. Don’t waste even the 5 minutes needed to oppose this when you should be figuring out how to balance the state budget.

  18. 18
    parasiteboy

    I found the answer to my own question

    Finally does anyone know the reference for the journal article that breaks down the writings of the founding fathers and shows that they used enlightenment ideas when writing the bill of rights/constitution as compared to their other writings which were more biblical based?

    It’s “Lutz, D.S. 1984. The relative influence of European writers on late 18th century American political thought AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Volume: 78 Issue: 1 Pages: 189-197″

    Apparently David Barton uses parts of this journal article to “prove” that the founding fathers used the bible to shape the constitution, but does not mention other parts that would refute this assertion from the same article…..maybe George Washington chopped down the cherry tree because he didn’t like cherry pickers.

  19. 19
    somerville

    Nobody has mentioned yet, another question that comes to mind – WHICH Bible?

  20. 20
    Draken

    @19, good question. I propose the Rubber Bible for its obvious contributions to the industrial development of the USA since 1914.

  21. 21
    d cwilson

    As a Pennsylvanian, I’m really disappointed that there wasn’t a single no vote. I was hoping to see at least one ad like this:

    (cue ominous music)

    Rep. Smith does not share our values. Rep. Smith voted against the Bible. He is against allowing our children to read the Bible. Do you want Rep. Smith to take away your Bible?

    (change to a more melodic tune)

    Vote for Charlie Dinglehopper. Charlie Dinglehopper loves the Bible. He will fight to protect our children’s right to read the Bible.

    I am Charlie Dinglehopper and I approve this message.

  22. 22
    Abby Normal

    Non-binding resolutions such as these have a long history in the US. Legislative bodies have a lot of latitude exactly because they are non-binding and therefore, by definition, don’t establish anything. While the overwhelming majority of these resolutions promote religion, it sometimes goes the other way too. In fact the last time I remember there being a significant legal challenge to such resolutions this was about five years ago, when the city of San Francisco passed a non-binding resolution condemning the Catholic Church. As I recall, the 9th circuit upheld the city’s authority to make such declarations and the SCOTUS declined to hear the appeal.

  23. 23
    Dr X

    Meantime,

    Now, I think we need to have a government that respects our religions. I’m a little bit tired about respecting every religion on the planet. I’d like them to respect our religion. Newt Gingrich

    Yeah, we’ve had the year of the Qur’an, the year of the Torah, the year of the Vedas, the year of the Book of Mormon, and on and on, but nothing for “us” because Christianity doesn’t get the respect that other religions get in this country.

  24. 24
    mikeym

    This is nearly identical to the “Year of the Bible” proclamation that Reagan signed February 3, 1983, Public Law 97-280.

    BTW, that earlier proclamation listed presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson. This one includes one more: Reagan himself.

  25. 25
    Area Man

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted last week to declare 2012 the “year of the Bible.”

    It’s like the measles. Best to get it out of the way. By 2013, we can confidently declare that it is not the year of the Bible, that year having been used up already.

  26. 26
    Michael Heath

    Mikeym:

    This is nearly identical to the “Year of the Bible” proclamation that Reagan signed February 3, 1983, Public Law 97-280.

    I would argue there is an enormous difference. The Reagan proclamation doesen’t factually assert the Bible is the “word of God” as the PA proclamation does. The only establishment issue I see in the Reagan proclamation is using, “year of our Lord”, to disingenuously describe the date.

    Both misinform readers regarding the historicity of the Bible and Christianity in the development of the DofI, Constitution, and the Republic. The most repellant one in the Reagan proclamation is the first false assertion:

    Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive Nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.

    Well, I’ll argue enlightenment thinking was more influential.

  27. 27
    Area Man

    Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive Nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.

    Yes indeed. What makes the United States distinctive is the influence of the Bible. Unlike in 18th century Europe, where it had only been the dominant holy book for 1400 years or so.

  28. 28
    anandine

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/31/forest-service-says-it-wont-evict-jesus-statue/?ap

    “The U.S. Forest Service says it will re-authorize a permit for a 57-year-old statue of Jesus that had been facing eviction from a northwestern Montana ski resort.

    “The agency faced a firestorm of criticism from religious groups, the state’s congressman and residents after it decided last fall to boot the Jesus statue from its hillside perch in the trees.

    “The Forest Service said Tuesday will renew a 10-year special-use permit for the Knights of Columbus Council statue. Service supervisor Chip Weber says the decision took into account that the statue ‘is important to the community for its historical heritage.’

    “The agency received more than 90,000 comments on the issue.

    “The Freedom From Religion Foundation argues the religious statue does not belong on public land.”

  29. 29
    mikeym

    @Michael Heath

    Of course you’re right. I was confusing the presidential proclamation you linked to with the ealier congressional action of a few months prior.

  30. 30
    MikeMa

    I will be addressing my spineless toad of a representative directly. We have no universal healthcare here yet but they have time to vote on this crap.

  31. 31
    exdrone

    I’ve seen this before. Isn’t Pennsylvania infringing on A.J. Jacob’s copyright?

  32. 32
    Aliasalpha

    Maybe we should view this as a good thing, this year, the year of the bible is the year it finally has to put out or get out. they have to prove its case once and for all (or at least provide ONE bit of evidence for its veracity) or shut the fuck up about it once and for all

  33. 33
    badandfierce

    This lovely little declaration was referred to as a “noncontroversial resolution,” which no doubt means something in legalese but simply confuses me.

    2012 also happens to be the Year of the Bat! I find this exciting AND non-controversial. Let’s compare the two.

    Bats are major contributors to agricultural success worldwide, controlling pest populations, pollinating crops, and providing a highly efficient fertilizer. The bible contains some very generic advice, but otherwise just uses farming as a heavy-handed metaphor.

    One genus of bats has developed specialized features of various kinds to feed on blood. Two species feed on birds and one targets large mammals, but none have been documented trying to eat from humans. Pretty much all variants on the bible, however, endorse pretty constant bloodsucking as well as lots of incidental animal death.

    Bats occupy a wholly unique ecological niche as the only mammals capable of true flight. From their metabolism to their social behavior, they are a joy to study and vital to the majority of ecosystems. Bibles occupy several rather overpopulated slots in literature, containing bits and pieces of myths, philosophy, and moralizing spanning a few thousand years’ worth of history for a small group in the Middle East.

    Bats in the United States are threatened predominantly by White Nose Syndrome and wind energy. Bibles in the United States are threatened predominantly by occasional ridicule and being left in skeezy hotel rooms.

    Bats win!

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