Judge dismisses Pa. suit over ‘Year of the Bible’

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge on Monday (Oct. 1) dismissed a lawsuit filed by an atheist group that challenged … Continued

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge on Monday (Oct. 1) dismissed a lawsuit filed by an atheist group that challenged a “Year of the Bible” resolution passed early this year by Pennsylvania lawmakers.

Yet U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher C. Conner also questioned whether the resolution should have been adopted at all. The nonbinding resolution, introduced by state Rep. Rick Saccone, urges Pennsylvanians to read the Bible during 2012.

The judge dismissed the suit by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation after concluding that House members have “absolute legislative immunity” in passing such measures.

Conner emphasized, however, that his decision to grant immunity “should not be viewed as judicial endorsement for this resolution. It most certainly is not.”

“At worst, (the Bible resolution) is premeditated pandering designed to provide a re-election sound-bite for use by members of the General Assembly,” Conner wrote.

He called the resolution’s language “proselytizing and exclusionary,” and said the measure “pushes the envelope” of the separation of church and state.

“At a time when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces massive public policy challenges, these (government) resources would be far better utilized in meaningful legislative efforts for the benefit of all of the citizens of the commonwealth, regardless of their religious beliefs.”

Saccone, a Republican from the southwest corner of the state, praised the dismissal of the suit, but called Conner’s assertion that the resolution butts against constitutional religious freedom protections “nonsense.”

“This has been done hundreds of times,” he said. “We have a National Day of Prayer. ‘In God we Trust’ is on our money.”

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, called the outcome of the case a “Pyrrhic victory for the Legislature,” given Conner’s criticism of the resolution.

The judge’s comments about the case “are exactly what we think,” Gaylor said. “I hate to lose a lawsuit, but this is kind of a silver lining in it.”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

  • dcrswm

    It’s not “Practice religion as you best see fit year” it is “Year of the bible” implying an endorsement of the christian faith. Like wise our money does not say “In the christian god we trust” so the argument presented is ridiculous. Well lets just look at it as latin for Year of the book, no specific book…I recommend Voyage of the Beagle for you christians that like to suggest creationism is science and the world is only 6000 years old.

  • mustang4me

    A pandering waste of taxpayer-paid legislative work time that should have been spent on more important things, like fixing the utterly atrocious roads in PA.

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.