Bible / Ian Britton, via FreeFoto (ref no. 05-02-11)In a move that’s sure to warm the cockles of the Religious Right within the Commonwealth, WITF in Harrisburg reports that Pennsylvania’s House unamimously voted to declare 2012 “the Year of the Bible” (WebCite cached article):

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.”

The article gratuitously adds a little of the “Christian martyr complex”:

Sponsoring Republican Rep. Rick Saccone of Allegheny County said he’s been getting a bit of critical feedback on the measure.

Oh, the poor thing! How utterly horrible to be criticized for this! Why, it’s intolerable!

Ironically, while he’s defending the importance of the Commonwealth “recognizing” the Bible’s importance, Saccone dismisses his own measure as meaningless:

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.

Believe me, the Religious Right will not view this declaration as “merely symbolic.” They will, instead, fallaciously use it as “evidence” of their “Christian nation” scenario … insisting that the entire country must revere the Bible exactly as they do, and must, by extension, be Christian just like them. Sorry to break it to them, but this is not a “Christian nation,” and little maneuvers like this one can never make it so.

As for the “national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures,” I question this in the strongest terms. The Bible contains a lot of “teachings” which no moral or ethical person should ever even contemplate doing, much less “apply” in their lives. Among them are the following:

  • All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. (Gen 7:21-23)
  • Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. (Ex 12:29)
  • He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. (Ex 21:17)
  • We utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children of every city. (Dt 3:6)
  • Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Dt 19:21)
  • If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. (Dt 22:23-24)
  • They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. (Jo 6:21)
  • Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Sm 15:2-3)
  • How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock. (Ps 137:9)
  • And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths. (Rev 9:17-18)
  • And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Rev 20:9)

The above is but a minuscule sampling of the horrific teachings contained within the Bible; there are many more I could have picked from.

It’s true the Bible contains some good teachings, such as what one finds in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain, which includes sayings such as “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God,” “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” and “whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” But really, how many Bible-venerating Christians obey those particular teachings? None that I know of.

As it turns out, all the signatories to this declaration may well have expressly violated one of the Bible’s teachings:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 6:1)

I can’t think of any more noticeable and public a way of expressing one’s Christian faith than by voting for this measure; hence, I can’t see how this couldn’t possibly be disobeying Jesus himself!

Photo credit: Ian Britton, via FreeFoto.

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