In January of this year, the Pennsylvania legislature unanimously passed a resolution dubbing 2012 as “The Year of the Bible.” The resolution stated that not only has the Bible been an important part of America’s history, but that in difficult times such as the present, there is a “national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
However, once a popular atheist group out of Wisconsin got wind of the measure, it filed a lawsuit against those behind it, claiming that it is unconstitutional because it purportedly violates the Establishment Clause. The Freedom from Religion Foundation went after Representative Rick Saccone of Allegheny in the suit, but Saccone has firmly refused to back down, pointing to the fact that the Scriptures are even engraved upon the walls of the Pennsylvania House chambers. He stated, “Some people want to rewrite history. … But we don’t intend to let them.”
Representative Jerry Stern of Holidaysburg was also one of the co-sponsors of the measure, stated that “any year or every year would be a good choice to recognize the value of the Bible.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims in its suit that the Bible contains “violent, sexist and racist models of behavior,” but Stern said that he sees the Foundation as simply directing their lawsuit to attack those that believe in God, and that it is all a part of a greater movement nationwide to erase God from American culture. Saccone agrees that lawsuit has no merit. He states that he has received much support nationwide, including offers of free legal assistance. He is currently being represented in court by a law firm out of Philadelphia.
Earlier this year, two atheist groups also protested the measure by purchasing billboards in Harrisburg that claim that the Bible advocates slavery.
Judge Christopher C. Conner with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is now deciding the case.