State Congressperson Debates Dan Barker on ‘Year of the Bible’ Resolution

Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Saccone recently introduced House Resolution 535, declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in the state.

Recently, Ernest Perce had Saccone on his show, “The Atheist’s Perspective on News and Events.” He also brought on FFRF’s Dan Barker :)

You *know* that debate was all sorts of heated… I haven’t had a chance to listen to the whole thing yet, so please leave timestamps of interesting parts in the comments! (Also, I know the audio is a little tough to listen to, but you get used to it pretty quickly.)



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mujica.alex Alejandro Mujica

    So, there’s a national day of prayer, Easter, Christmas, Three Kings Day, and other religious holidays, yet there needs to be a YEAR for the Bible? How redundant and exclusionary. If this was a Christian nation, we’d have a monarchy.

  • John Michael Strubhart

    I don’t think that a government should be wasting its time resolving any point of view.  The business of government is to govern.  Every state in the US has enough problems that it should be of grave concern to every citizen that any government wastes its time engaging in such an act.
    Rick is continually confuses private speech and government speech.  Dan continually points out his confusion.  Rick’s tone is hostile, but so is Dan’s in his own way, but he should be cut some slack, because he is speaking as a private citizen and leader of a non-governmental organization.  There is no excuse for Rick’s hostile and exclusive tone, because he is speaking as a representative of a government.  I got the impression that his attitude is “Screw you if you don’t like it.”  

  • Jake

    Wow. That was infuriating.

  • Katie

    *sigh* I just wanted to facepalm every time Rick talked.

  • Korou

    Is there any other way to view or listen to this? I’m in China and can’t get youtube.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    That’s the beauty of the religious tolerance that comes from the bible that shaped our history

    (about 7m in)

    I’ll just edit this comment as I find more.

  • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

    I don’t see how Saccone’s bill is even valid for debate. It’s unconstitutional. I don’t care how entertaining it is. Don’t do him any favors legitimizing this trash.

  • Wintermute

    I wrote to my representative to complain about this, and yesterday I received a response in the mail. Pretty weak sauce, in my opinion. Goes on about how this is a resolution, not a law, and so it doesn’t really violate the establishment clause, and how it doesn’t run afoul of the PA State Constitution because it doesn’t compel any behavior (though he ignores the part about ‘government giving no preference to any religion’). And he reminds me that, while the slavery, murder, and genocide are a bit awkward, there are many wonderful lessons in the Bible as well, and I should accept his good intent rather than getting hung up on the details.

    TL;DR: My representative is a nob with no concept of how this kind of thing promotes christian privilege, and I’ll be donating to his opponent in the next election.

  • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy Orlinsky

    It’s very clear that Saccone does not understand the difference between private speech and government speech.  Barker tried to explain it, but Saccone just didn’t get it.  That’s the crux of the problem.  Maybe anyone working on church/state separation issues should take extra time to hammer in the difference between government and private speech.  If it became a bigger talking point, maybe people would understand the issues better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Venhartly/100003164475597 Sarah Venhartly

    Ugh.  What a bunch of gibberish.  Saccone  has no understanding of the 1st Amendment and no doubt would be very surprised to learn that the 10 Commandments were ordered to be taken out of a Kentucky courthouse by the Supreme Court in 2005.  Justice Souter wrote: “This is not time to deny the prudence of understanding the Establishment Clause to require the government to stay neutral on religious belief, which is reserved for the conscience of the individual.” Instead we have Rick Saccone saying over and over that there is no requirement for government to be neutral on religion. 

    Other gems were:

    7:49 RS: 97% of my constituents are Christian or Jewish…It pays to be open-minded (!)

    14:40  RS: The Constitution comes from Natural Law, which is God’s Law, which is a higher law.

    21:00 RS: Even though our Constitution doesn’t specifically say those things, it gives homage to the Lord at the very end.  The Constitution was signed at the end in the Year of Our Lord. They were talking about  Jesus Christ.

  • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

    If they’re determined to name 2012 the Year of the Bible, then perhaps it would be good to help the good people of Pennsylvania learn about it, perhaps through a year-long series of posts, tweets, talks at churches, etc.
    If I may suggest a name: “Shit My Bible Says”.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNWAM4DYCN4MLBLHFGDHE2YKZM GloomCookie613

      If I weren’t a lazy, forgetful bastard, I’d do it as a sarcastic thing and do a backwards cherry pick by only using the really ridiculous and horrifying stuff.

  • Anonymous

    I listen to a lot of debates like these and like to hear Dan speak about the separation of church and state, but I notice one annoying trend. And that is that when an atheist is making a point that the theist doesn’t take, the theist begins to speak over the atheist. This is especially true when the theist is a pastor. They think they’re correct and that they have all the right answers so they start talking over the other speaker instead of listening to the point and waiting their turn. William Lane Craig is one of the worst offenders. But true for nearly all theists in a debate scenario. I’d like to see the atheist speak up and stop that when it happens. Hitchens used to do that on occasion.

  • Thesaintsrevenge

    I appreciate the Post for this link. Dan Barker need’s some financial support for standing up to these people. Unfortunately, the typing is because I have to work during the day. Normally the show is a TV live camera show, but Rep. Saccone didn’t have camera ability so I limited Dan Barker to the phone to make it an equal debate. Thanks again for the post. Catch the APNE news in one of 49 cities nationwide on your local public access channels. 

  • http://www.steelcityskeptics.net/ The Militant One

    As one of Saccone’s unfortunate constituents, I am a little familiar with him. If you think the debate is bad, look into this schmuck’s background and it gets even scarier. He also was one of the driving forces behind PA’s expanded Castle Doctrine, aka “Kill first, ask questions later”.

  • T-Rex

    So if this is the year of the Bible does that mean that after this year we will never have to deal with it again? I can get behind that idea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293001320 Diana Winters

    There is no greater insult than to be called “closed-minded” from a theist. 

  • Ellen

    I have been invited to invite my friends and neighbors to discuss *ANY* state government-related issues with the gentleman from Allegheny/Westmoreland counties who introduced this resolution (HR 535).  Please come meet Mr. Rick Saccone at an evening coffee:

    When:  Wednesday, Feb. 22
    Time:  6:30 PM
    Where: Union Township Municipal Building
           3904 Finleyville-Elrama Road
           Finleyville PA  15332

    Please bring a gift of one bookmark that is imprinted with either the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution or Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution so Mr. Saccone has something to mark his place as he reads his Bible throughout 2012.

    Please invite your neighbors and friends – especially those in Western PA.


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