FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has issued a proclamation declaring 2017 the “Year of the Bible,” making it the second year that Bevin has issued such a decree.
He noted that several prominent figures throughout American history have lauded the importance of the Scriptures.
“President Harry S. Truman said, ‘The fundamental basis of this nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul,'” Bevin’s proclamation reads in part.
“In addition to encouraging Americans to rediscover the Bible’s ‘priceless and timeless message,’ President Ronald Reagan’s 1983 Year of the Bible Proclamation 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,'” it continues.
The proclamation also notes that 2017 will be the second year that Kentucky has held its statewide Bible-reading marathon. It begins on Jan. 1 as participants take turns reading portions of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.
As previously reported, the effort is organized by Mark Harrell, pastor of Victory Christian Fellowship in Somerset and founder of the Kentucky Pastor’s Prayer Focus. He hopes that all 120 counties throughout the state will become involved, but so far, has confirmation from over 70.
“At midnight Jan. 1, someone in a county will read from the Bible for 15 minutes and then someone else and then someone else and so on until the entire Bible is read aloud,” Harrell explained to the Lexington Herald Leader. “It will take about three-and-a-half days to do this.”
He said that Bevin, who signed the “Year of the Bible” proclamation on Dec. 19, had encouraged him to carry on the marathon again this year.
But some have expressed objection to Bevin’s decree, including the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
“The proclamation excludes and alienates Kentuckians who are not Christian, not religious, or believe in the patriotic principle of upholding the First Amendment by keeping religion out of government. To use the secular gubernatorial office to propagandize a religious book is an unacceptable abuse of power,” FFRF writes on its website, calling upon its supporters to ask Bevin to “stop Bible thumping.”
As previously reported, throughout America’s early history, a number of the Founding Fathers issued proclamations calling inhabitants to look to God, including in 1798, when President John Adams proclaimed a national day of humiliation, prayer and fasting.
“As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him,” he wrote, “…this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty and of danger, when existing or threatening calamities—the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity—are a loud call to repentance and reformation.”
President Abraham Lincoln also proclaimed a National Fast Day in 1863.
“[I]t is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord,” his proclamation read.
“[I]nsomuch we know that by His Divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people,” Lincoln said.