PA House Declares: Jefferson Can Take His ‘Wall’ And Shove It

PA House Chamber - photo by David Fielding

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.


photo by David Fielding via Flickr

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#church#congress shall make no law#First Amendment#house of representatives#PA#Pennsylvania#religion#Rick Saccone#state#Thomas Jefferson#wall of separation

  • Steve Schuler

    Wow – this is a shockingly blatant betrayal of the separation of church and state. How is this not getting more mainstream press coverage? And to pass unanimously is even more appalling. Those members who voted for it should ask themselves how they would feel about it if they didn’t happen to be Christians. More importantly, allowing bills such as this to pass (did I mention it was unanimous?!) sets a precedent to allow the same thing to be passed at some point in the future when the makeup of the House isn’t so Christian. Say for example, demographics start to shift and the same resolution was passed to declare a Month of the Koran because a few key voting districts happen to have strong voting blocks of Muslims. Something tells me this would suddenly be getting a LOT more press than it is now. The point of separating church and state is NOT to promote a lack of religion – it’s to allow all religions to have equal respect, and the fact that Christians in the House felt that this was even necessary, much less permissible shows how completely out of touch they are, and more importantly, how uninterested they are in representing ALL of their constituents to the extent possible.

    It’s especially ironic that the very right-wing people (many of which make up this House) who spout the most high and mighty rhetoric about toppling oppressive religious theocracies, are now themselves actively attempting to turn their own country into a religious theocracy. If there’s any doubt, you have only to look at recent Republican polls (especially in PA) to see what considerations consistently make the top of voters’ lists when considering candidates – religion. Passing bills like this only serves to further promote that misguided BS and turn us into the very thing we claim to be sending our children across the globe to be fighting.

  • They pay lip service to freedom and liberty when making speeches to a broad audience but they are actually only talking about freedom and liberty for people who look like they do and think like they do. They are far less concerned about the freedom and liberty for someone that thinks differently or worse, prays to a different god. Your point about “toppling oppressive religious theocracies” makes perfect sense to the logical and rational mind, but “they” would not see the parallel.