Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Central PA man threatening to desecrate Quran over controversial PA House resolution

Central PA man threatening to desecrate Quran over controversial PA House resolution



Remember that state House resolution declaring 2012 the "Year of the Bible" in Pennsylvania?

So does Ernest Perce V, director of the state chapter of American Atheists. And he is threatening to desecrate the Quran -- in the state Capitol, no less -- if the legislature doesn't rescind the resolution.

Perce told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg this morning that he plans to whip the Quran in the Capitol Rotunda at noon on September 24, the day the House is scheduled to return from its summer break. The newspaper reported that Perce is protesting the resolution on his own, and not in the name of the American Atheists organization.

Representatives from the House could not be reached for immediate comment.

It was unclear why Perce was singling out the Quran.

The one-page resolution, which unanimously passed the House in late January, recognizes what it calls the Bible's "formative influence" in the founding of the nation and the state. It says that as the nation "faces great challenges," there should be a recognition of a "national need to study and apply" Scripture.

The resolution's sponsor, State Rep. Rick Saccone (R., Allegheny), has said in a previous interview that religion was ingrained in the state's history - he points to words from Scripture emblazoned on the walls of the House chamber - and that the nation's founders turned to the Bible for inspiration.

Shortly after the resolution passed, two Philadelphia Democrats, Reps. Mark Cohen and Babette Josephs, said that they had unwittingly voted for it and that it was a mistake.

The two said they were thrown by the resolution's having been labeled "noncontroversial," which meant it did not go through the committee and debate process that accompanies most legislation.

A Wisconsin-based association representing atheists and agnostics has filed a federal suit, contending the resolution amounts to an official government endorsement of religion - and Christianity, in particular. That, the group is arguing, violates the Constitution's establishment clause, which bars government from preferring one religion over another.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation names Saccone as well as the House clerk and the House parliamentarian as defendants, and is asking a federal judge to order them to stop publishing and distributing the resolution; and to rule that state government is not Judeo-Christian.

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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