PA ‘Year of the Bible” resolution latest front in battle
By Lowman S. Henry
In recent weeks the radical Left has stepped up its war against religious liberty in general, and against Christians in particular. The Obama Administration’s assault on the First Amendment under the guise of “health care” regulations requiring churches to provide “services” which run contrary to their faith has sparked national outrage. Here in Pennsylvania, a House Resolution recognizing the influence of the Bible on life in America has come under attack.
House Resolutions rarely stir controversy, but one declaring 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” has incited passions among those groups whose mission it is to scrub all reference to Christianity from the public square. Of course those of us who are Christians have a constitutional right to practice our religion, and thus rightly view such efforts as an attack upon our God-given liberties.
A read of the actual resolution finds that not only is it on solid constitutional grounds, it is historically factually correct. The resolution observes that the Bible has “…made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation…” It goes on to state “…Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States…” The influence of the Bible, as well as the Magna Carta and other civil instruments did indeed inspire and influence America’s founding documents and legal system.
The House Resolution concludes: “The history of our country clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily (emphasis added) applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families and societies…” It ends by declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in recognition of “the formative influence of the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation…”
Perhaps had the legislature declared 2012 to be the “Year of the Magna Carta” it would have gone unnoticed. But by recognizing the central role the Bible and the teachings of Christianity played in the formation of our nation the radical Left has gone into a tizzy. Perhaps it was the resolution’s exhortation to “study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures” that got their attention. But what part of the Holy Scriptures should we abandon? Should we now allow murder, adultery, theft or any other errant behavior condemned by the Bible?
As we wade through the Year of the Bible controversy it is important to frame the debate appropriately. It is not, as the Left would posit, about freedom from religion. It is not about equality, neutrality or diversity. It is about the denial of religious freedom, a right so valued by our Founding Fathers it was ensconced in the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights.
For the American Left’s social welfare state agenda to succeed it is mandatory that religion, specifically the Christian religion, be replaced in the hearts and minds of the people by the state. Therefore, they are attempting to rewrite history. The fact is the signers of America’s Declaration of Independence from England pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to protect the self-evident rights to which we were “endowed by our creator.” Thus the core of the argument is whether or not God or government bestows rights upon us. Throughout the course of American history rights have been accepted as God-given. That is the history the Left now seeks to rewrite.
This is why it is so vital for the Left to recast the constitution’s Establishment Clause as a Separation Clause. The First Amendment clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (emphasis added) of religion…” It then goes on to guarantee the right to practice religion by stating “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is precisely that right that the Left now seeks to deny Christians in America.
The “Year of the Bible” resolution is just the latest battle in the Left’s long war against religion. The resolution is historically accurate, constitutionally sound and wholly appropriate. The House should stand its ground and allow the resolution to remain in effect. To do otherwise would be to violate the right of Christians to the “free exercise” of our religion.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)