Pennsylvania Legislators Propose ‘American Religious History Week’… Which is All About Christianity

Pennsylvania legislators love their Bible.

They love it so much, they declared 2012 “Year of the Bible.” Since that wasn’t enough, they declared October, 2012 “Prayer Month.” And that was after May 3, 2012, which we all obviously remember was a Day of Prayer.

So what do they do for an encore?

They declare it week “American Religious History Week“…

And by “religious,” they mean Christian and only Christian because America’s religious history is full of nothing but Christianity:

WHEREAS, The first act of America’s first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of four chapters of the Bible; and

WHEREAS, The Liberty Bell was named for the Biblical inscription from Leviticus 25:10 emblazoned around it: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof”; and

WHEREAS, In 1782, Congress pursued a plan to print a Bible that would be “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools” and therefore approved the production of the first English language Bible printed in America that contained the congressional endorsement that “the United States in Congress assembled … recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States”; and

WHEREAS, Beginning in 1904 and continuing for the next half-century, the Federal Government printed and distributed The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth for the use of Members of Congress because of the important teachings it contained; and

WHEREAS, The constitutions of each of the 50 states, either in the preamble or body, explicitly recognize or express gratitude to God; and

WHEREAS, President Abraham Lincoln declared that the Bible “is the best gift God has given to men … But for it, we could not know right from wrong”; and

WHEREAS, President Franklin D. Roosevelt not only led the nation in a six-minute prayer during D-Day on June 6, 1944, but he also declared that “If we will not prepare to give all that we have and all that we are to preserve Christian civilization in our land, we shall go to destruction”; and

WHEREAS, President John F. Kennedy declared that “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God”; and

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives designate the week of May 6 through 12, 2013, as “American Religious History Week” for the recognition of the impact of religious beliefs on America’s history; and …

RESOLVED, The House of Representatives reject, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure or purposely omit such history from our nation’s public buildings and educational resources.

Ahh, so that’s what this is all really about. Who knows what that last bit has to do with instances of our government invoking Christianity throughout history. Religious language being used by government officials is very different from endorsing or establishing Christianity, which that last passage could easily be construed as doing.

But since this is all about “religious history,” Justin Vacula asks some good questions:

I wonder, would the House of Representatives be willing to include references to Islamic religious beliefs on “public buildings” and in “educational resources?” Shall monuments to Krishna be erected outside courthouses next to Ten Commandments memorials? Since religion ought not be privileged over non-religion, shall the House of Representatives work on erecting a monument to Bertrand Russell commemorating — in addition to his other works — the publishing of “Why I am Not a Christian?” If Judeo-Christian religious beliefs are to be recognized, why ought not other religious beliefs and even atheistic thinkers be recognized?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Andrew Seidel also chimes in, while tearing apart all those WHEREASes, letting us know the real intentions of the PA legislators:

For those who don’t understand theocratic Newspeak, let me translate: the House rejects the separation of state and church, particularly on public buildings and in our schools. Keep “In God We Trust” on the Capitol and the Ten Commandments in front of our Pennsylvania schools (not for long).

One is inclined to think that the House formed an Irony Committee to draft such absurd language. With this language, the House is rejecting the very Constitution they promised to uphold upon entering office.

The bill’s in the education committee, where it should just be filed away, but there’s little hope to be placed in these legislators, who have shown repeatedly how much they love honoring Christianity.

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.