Pennsylvania House Declares The Year of the Bible

Jan 31, 2012

You may have thought 2012 was the year of the dragon, but state House lawmakers have assigned a moniker.

With a unanimous vote last week, House members declared 2012 the "Year of the Bible."

The resolution recognizes the book that has shaped the Commonwealth and the "national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures."

Sponsoring Representative Rick Saccone (R-Jeffrson Hills) said he's been getting a bit of critical feedback on the measure.

"One person put on the comments, 'Why don't you have a resolution honoring the Quran?' Well, we could, but the Quran didn't have an influence on the founding of our country," said Saccone. "I'm honoring a document and reflecting on a document that had a significant impact on the foundation and throughout the history of our country."

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union says there's no legal issue with the measure, but it's not a welcome resolution.

"The message to religious minorities is, 'You're not welcome here,'" said Andy Hoover, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania ACLU. "It speaks to the House and their desire to fight the culture wars."

Saccone said the resolution is not intended to be unwelcoming.

"It's not exclusive," he said. "The resolution just recognizes the significant impact the Bible has had on our country. It in no way inhibits anyone from believing in any faith or no faith at all."

Saccone said that while the state website lists only about 30 co-sponsors of his resolution, there were actually about 60 co-sponsors to the "Year of the Bible" measure.

The legislation does not specify which version of the Bible should be recognized.

Saccone said it's like many other largely symbolic pieces of legislation recognizing Girl Scout Week, honoring Jewish chaplains, or paying tribute to military veterans.

"We do this all the time," he said.