A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against legislators in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania surrounding their declaration of 2012 as being “The Year of the Bible.”
As previously reported, in January of this year, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Rick Saccone of Allegheny, recognizing that the Bible is an important part of American history and that there remains a “national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
The following month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against Saccone and other legislators, claiming that the resolution violated the separation of church and state. It also asserted that the Bible contains “violent, sexist and racist models of behavior.”
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner, nominated by George W. Bush, dismissed the suit, granting a motion made by attorneys for the legislators. Conner agreed that lawmakers had immunity in such cases.
However, he also scolded legislators for passing the resolution, claiming that it was “proselytizing and exclusionary” and “a waste of legislative resources.”
“At a time when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces massive public policy challenges, these resources would be far better utilized in meaningful legislative efforts for the benefit of all of the citizens of the commonwealth, regardless of their religious beliefs,” Judge Conner wrote.
Nonetheless, both sides said that they were satisfied with the outcome of the ruling.
“I hate to lose a lawsuit, but this has kind of a silver lining in it,” stated Anne Laurie Gaylor, the co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, referring to Conner’s comments against the resolution.
“Praise the Lord,” rejoiced Representative Rick Saccone. “What we did was not novel or controversial. It recognized the role of the Bible in history.”
“[A]ny year or every year would be a good choice to recognize the value of the Bible,” remarked Representative Jerry Stern of Holidaysburg.