Huh? PA House Declared April 30 ‘Day of Fasting’
Proving there’s still a little ‘Year of the Bible’ in all of us, last month the Pennsylvania House of Representatives declared the fast-approaching April 30 as “National Fast Day.” And at least one church-state watchdog isn’t too happy about it.
The legislation, introduced as a “noncontroversial resolution” by Rep. Saccone (R-Allegheny) is meant to recognize the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s same proclamation. And the resolution itself isn’t much more than a quote from the late president, in which he noted: “the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.”
It continues: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
Delaware Valley Americans United, a separation of church and state watchdog group, has called the resolution—which passed 160-35—a “constitutional misstep” in a press email sent out today.
“This resolution reads like one long prayer,” said Janice Rael, vice president of the local AU chapter. “I find it hard to believe that with all of the problems facing this state, legislators could find no better ways to spend their time than to try to tell us how to worship.”
Similar sentiments were shared by a minority of legislators yesterday, as House Bill 818, which restricts abortion access for poor women in Pennsylvania, was passed.
“Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution,” noted state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila) on the House floor. “We did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”
Last year, the Pennsylvania state House unanimously passed a noncontroversial resolution declaring 2012 the Year of the Bible.