Opponents of church-state separation seem to have found fertile soil in Pennsylvania, where lately misguided lawmakers have backed resolutions that offend the principles of the First Amendment. But now, some Americans United activists and others are fighting back.
Last year, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously declared that 2012 was the “Year of the Bible,” and approved a resolution that stated “biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.” It also asserted that “renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people” and declares “our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.”
The resolution wasn’t binding, so it didn’t serve any purpose other than to entangle religion and government, as well as alienate a lot of people. (A judge dismissed a lawsuit over the resolution, but went out of his way to chastise the lawmakers who approved it.)
Then this year, the House declared that April 30 should be “National Fast Day,” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of the same name. That doesn’t sound so bad in and of itself, except Lincoln’s original proclamation included a bit of religious messaging, and his words are quoted in the Pennsylvania resolution.
“The Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation,” reads the resolution.
It went on to say a lot more about thanking God, but you get the point. And it’s obviously problematic from a church-state standpoint.
This latest proclamation from Pennsylvania riled the members of Americans United’s Delaware Valley Chapter (DVAU), so it issued a press release condemning the “National Fast Day.”
Bad Bill Backlash: Pennsylvania Lawmakers Face Criticism For Religious Resolutions | Americans United
By Janice Rael on April 25, 2013