Pennsylvania Lawmakers Follow ‘Year of the Bible’ with ‘Year of Religious Diversity’
Remember how the Pennsylvania House unanimously declared 2012 the ‘Year of the Bible’ last year, for some reason? Yeah, the resolution never got overturned, although several members of the House, including Rep. Mark Cohen and former Rep. Babette Josephs of Philadelphia, apologized for their vote, claiming they overlooked the language and title of the bill.
Well, it’s a new day, and Rep. Mark Cohen is here to make things right. He introduced House Resolution 157 last week, on March 14th, which would declare 2013 the “Year of Religious Diversity” in Pennsylvania — because we are diverse!
“William Penn’s Declaration of Rights in 1677 assured that ‘no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent,’” the resolution states. “Pennsylvania is now home to Christians, including many Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant denominations; Quakers; Jews of Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reformed congregations; Mormons; Muslims of Shia, Sunni, Sufi and others; Unitarians; Buddhists; Hindus; Sikhs; Taoists; and other religious traditions, as well as many who claim no religious affiliation and nonbelievers.”
The resolution, like its 2012 predecessor, was introduced as a “noncontroversial” resolution, in order to avoid any, you know, controversy.
The ‘Year of the Bible’ resolution was ridiculed nationally and led to an atheist group erecting a billboard in Harrisburg that quoted the Bible — “Slaves, obey your masters” — alongside a depiction of an African-American slave. Rep. Cohen actually tried to push a “Year of Religious Diversity” bill last year, too, which prompted Ernest Pearce V, the director of the state chapter of the American Atheists — the group that put up the billboard — to state he’d burn a Quran if that resolution passed.
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