PENNSYLVANIA—The Pennsylvania State Legislature adopted by a unanimous vote HR 535, which begins with the words, “A Resulution Declaring 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania. “Whereas, The Bible, the word of God…”
This astounding resolution must come as quite a shock to the Pennsylvania residents who are atheists, Muslims, Jews or Buddhists. One wonders also, even among the Christian community, which Bible? There is, for example, a Catholic Bible and a Protestant Bible which contain different texts. I do not doubt that the many orthodox Jews in the Keystone State would greatly disagree with the sentiment that the King James Bible is the Word of God. And approximately 13% of the US population is atheist – that’s almost 2 million people in Pennsylvania alone who do not believe that the Bible is the word of God.
What possessed these otherwise sober legislators to do such a thing? Did they have nothing better to do? Are they going to declare 2013 the year of the Qur’an? And will 2014 be the year of the Torah? We could have a year for every major religious text and not run out of dedications this century.
It is an insult to everyone who doesn’t believe in the Bible (or one particular Bible), that the State Legislature has dedicated the whole year as “the word of God.” It is more than insulting to anyone of the Hindu faith to be told that their state officially, and by legislative decree, exhorts everyone “to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.” I am sure that there are Muslims in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who would be ready to die rather than to submit to this kind of religious tyranny.
Contrary to the text of the bill, our nation is founded upon the principle that the state shall not support or require any particular religion or religious creed (not Catholicism, not Protestantism, not Islam, not Mormonism and so forth) and that individuals are free to follow their convictions, within the law, wheresoever they may lead.
I personally find it highly distasteful to be told in law that presidents like Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan “paid tribute to the influence of the Bible in our country’s development.” Andrew Jackson presided over one of the most corrupt and scandalous presidencies on record. Ronald Reagan was so God fearing that his administration sold arms to Iran to finance a private war in Central America that resulted in the US government being found guilty of war crimes in the International Court. As with almost every brazenly sanctimonious example of intentionally pious legislation passed by state legislatures in this country, this one is full of inaccuracies, false suppositions and just plain lies. Of course it is also obviously unconstitutional and as fine an example of illegal legislation as the Alabama Miscegenation Act of 1928 that declared sex between white and black people to be a felony.
It is a sad reflection of our times that we are again faced with this kind of paltry legislative agenda in place of legislation that actually addresses the needs of people in tough times. With all the unemployment, homelessness, drugs, poverty, breakdown of infrastructure and violence to be found in the United States, it is scandalous that any state legislative body should waste time and the taxpayers’ money on this kind of idiotic legislation.