Year of the Bible: good or bad?

When the state Legislature declared 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in January, you knew that wouldn’t pass by unnoticed.

And it certainly took awhile, but the controversy has finally spawned a lawsuit.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation on Monday sued the measure’s main sponsor, Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny; House clerk Tony Barbush; and House parliamentarian Clancy Myer over the resolution.

The lawsuit says the resolution “sends a message to the citizens of Pennsylvania, including (the foundation’s) members, that Christian beliefs are more legitimate in the eyes of the state than other systems of belief and thought, which constitute matters of individual free conscience.”

The Madison, Wis.-based foundation wants a federal judge to order the defendants to stop publishing and distributing the resolution and to rule that the state government isn’t Judeo-Christian. It also requests a declaration that the state public officials are subject to the Constitution’s Establishment Clause and a repayment of costs and legal fees associated with the complaint.

The unanimous vote in the House favored a resolution to recognize how the book has shaped the state, and the “national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy Scriptures.”

Saccone, whose resolution notes the Bible’s “formative influence” and says there is a “national need to study and apply” scripture, said Monday that the lawsuit is without merit.

What do you think? Let’s take a vote:

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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One Response to Year of the Bible: good or bad?

  1. I do not feel this resolution is appropriate. While recognition of the historical and cultural significance of the Bible is valid, this resolution goes further by establishing that importance of “renewing our knowledge of and faith in God”. Whether or not I agree, it is not the place of the legislature to put forth that idea, and to suggest that the language of this bill only serves to recognize the formative importance of the Bible is disingenuous in my opinion.

    I would also suggest that, even to those who agree with what the resolution states, it does nothing to help their cause. At worst, it polarizes people, stirs resentment towards and misunderstanding of people of faith, and caters to one specific constituency while misrepresenting another. At best it promotes a deistic civil religion that, quite frankly, does not necessarily align with my personal Christian beliefs. I would prefer the state not speak for me as a person of faith. Leave that to churches and private individuals.

    Further, purely as a practical matter, this exemplifies a misappropriation of time and resources by the legislature which is being exacerbated now by the introduction of a lawsuit. Even reconsidering the bill will take up legislative time, however that probably is what needs to happen to quell the situation and get back to the business of the people.

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