Pennsylvania Legislature Declares 2012 "The Year of the Bible"

Here is the resolution with my editorial comments on each “Whereas” in italics and bold..  Much of this resolution seems to be lifted from Ronald Reagan’s proclamation making 1983 “The Year of the Bible” in the United States.

A RESOLUTION (PA H.R. 535)

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
Reagan’s proclamation began, “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 that the Bible.”  

I generally agree with this statement, but I do wonder if the Bible has made the United States somehow “distinctive.”  You could say the same thing, for example, about England or another historically Protestant country.

WHEREAS, Deeply held religious convictions springing from the
holy scriptures led to the early settlement of our country; and
Reagan said: “Deep religious beliefs stemming from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible inspired many of the early settlers of our country.”

WHEREAS, Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government
that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and
the Constitution of the United States; and
Reagan said: “The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers’ abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual, rights which they found implicit in the Bible’s teaching of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual.  This same sense of man patterned the convictions of those who framed the English system of law inherited by our own Nation, as well as the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.” 

Here I would ask my readers to read my treatment of this in Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction.

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
Reagan wrote: “Many of our greatest national leaders–among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson–have recognized the influence of the Bible on our country’s development.  The plainspoken Andrew Jackson referred to the Bible as no less than, “the rock on which our Republic rests.”  

I wonder if the Assembly really wants to invoke Jackson as an exemplary follower of the Bible’s teachings. 

WHEREAS,The history of our country clearly illustrates the value of voluntarilyapplying 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
Reagan wrote: “Today our beloved America and, indeed the world, is facing a decade of enormous challenge.  As a people we have been seldom, if ever, been tested before.”  

I guess nothing has changed since 1983.  We are still referring to every crisis as the greatest the country has ever faced.

WHEREAS, Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through
holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people; therefore be
it.  I can’t argue with this statement, at least on the surface.

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

While this resolution seems to be an attempt to bring “Christian America” principles into the Commonwealth, I don’t see any real problem with such a proclamation.  In fact, I hope it spurs some good scholarship and informed commentary on the role the Bible played in Pennsylvania history in a way that is void of partisanship. 

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