Year of the Bible
A simple resolution passed the House unanimously on Jan. 24. It 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. Most citizens don’t remember that a joint session of Congress passed a similar resolution signed by President Ronald Reagan on Feb. 3, 1983, declaring that year as the Year of the Bible in America.
Of course, after our resolution, a few complained and aired the same false arguments that God was never a part of our founding and we should not include God in government, but that is easily refuted.
In fact, I just want to offer a few quotes from the founding fathers and past presidents on the importance of the Bible in America.
George Washington himself spoke frequently of the Bible, and in his very first act, emblematic of the office he was about to take, he chose to lay his hand on the Bible
to take that oath. That tradition has been carried on by every president after him, swearing their oath of office on the Bible, frequently choosing, as Washington did, a specific verse within that they believe has special meaning.
Benjamin Franklin, a noted founding father, but also the 23rd speaker of the PA General Assembly and former governor of the Commonwealth reminded us: “A Bible in every home is the principle support of virtue, morality and civil liberty.”
John Adams noted in his diary on Feb. 22, 1756, “Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . What a Utopia – what a Paradise would this region be!”
John Jay, president of the Continental Congress and first Chief Justice of the United States, said, “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God
and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”
Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, participant in the Continental Congress and vice president of the Philadelphia Bible Society wrote, “The Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world. The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”
Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, insisted, “The Bible is the rock on which this Republic rests.” One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, stated, “I believe the Bible is the best book God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.”
Finally, one of our most beloved presidents, Ronald Reagan, reminded us that, “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” He also stated, “Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”
Our founders and great leaders throughout our history have turned to the Bible for wisdom, inspiration and solace. The notion that God or the Bible was ever separate from government in this regard is a denial of history. “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
Those aren’t my words; they are the words of Thomas Jefferson, chiseled in granite at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. More than a hundred such references are proudly displayed around our capital there and our beautiful Capitol in Harrisburg. Opponents grind their teeth when they walk past the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the very icon of our heritage and independence, which sports a quotation from Leviticus 25:10 on it.
Visit the Lincoln Memorial and inspect the wall where the Gettysburg address is inscribed reminding us “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” By the way, Lincoln’s second inaugural address referred to God 12 times and quoted the Bible three times, defying and obliterating any notion that he felt God and government should be separate.
And remember the Bible was a textbook in our public schools for 150 years.
I could supply hundreds of more examples. The bottom line remains, when you look at the facts, there is no denying the influence of this great book on our nation and its most respected leaders.
It is time well spent for all our leaders to acknowledge and reflect upon this book in times of trouble in our country, or is it as Ben Franklin once asked, “All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Do we imagine we no longer need Him?”
I think the unanimous vote in the PA House last week suggests that although it may not be politically correct to admit, our leaders certainly do recognize the value of God’s word in government. We will all be better off for it.
State Representative Rick Saccone
39th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Ty McCauslin