In what can only be described as a clear violation of the First Amendment and Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Wall of Separation’, The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible”. Resolution No. 535 passed unanimously on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 with a vote of 193-0. The resolution, sponsored by representative Rick Saccone, reads:
Declaring 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania. 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.
Regardless of your religious affiliation, if you accept the language of the First Amendment and it’s consistent interpretation by the Supreme Court, then you should agree PA Resolution N0. 535 is unconstitutional.
While this resolution has no real power to influence people’s lives, I see it as a means for religious zealots to test the waters for more influential legislation that would attack individual liberty, actually harm religous freedom – for those not practicing the Christian faith – and ultimately cause irreparable harm to our representative democracy.