Monday, February 8, 2016

Bible battle isn't over

Your Legislature's "Year of the Bible" resolution continues to draw attention, litigation and now another resolution; guess lawmakers don't have enough to do.

Bible battle isn't over


Remember that unanimously-adopted "Year of the Bible" resolution your state House passed back in January?

Remember how a bunch of lawmakers, including Philly Democrats Mark Cohen, Babette Josephs and Tony Payton, opposed it after voting for it on grounds they hadn't read it and didn't know they were voting to make 2012 the year of the Bible in Pennsylvania?

And how that set off a round of comment, including from the likes of me, about, you know, do they ever read what they vote for, don't they have anything more pressing to do than pushing a measure that some say suggests monolithic religious intolerance?

Well, the issue's back.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports internal and external kerfuffle over the measure.

Seems Cohen sought to have the resolution rescinded but was told by the House parliamentarian that he waited too long. Now Cohen says he'll introduce another resolution making 2012 "The Year of Religious Diversity."

There's more, a Wisconsin-based atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has filed a federal lawsuit to void the measure as unconstitutional, and the House has hired a Philly law firm to respond to the suit.

Your tax dollars at work.

The lawsuit, in U.S. District Middle Court in Harrisburg, comes after another group called American Atheists and Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, put up a billboard ad in Harrisburg comparing the "Year of the Bible" resolution to an endorsement of slavery.

The billboard pictured a black, shackled slave and the biblical quote, "Slaves, obey your masters." It was defaced the first night it was up. It then was taken down. But, perhaps not surprisingly, made national news for our capital city and our band of lawmakers.

Just goes to show: there is no end to the ways our elected officials bring unending pride to the Keystone State.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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