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Year of the Bible

Religion | A Georgia representative wants to remind Americans how the country was founded on biblical principles

WASHINGTON-President Obama last week signed a proclamation declaring June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Pride Month. If it were up to Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., however, the president would sign an entirely different type of proclamation for next year.

Broun has introduced a National Year of the Bible resolution, designating 2010 as an official reminder of America's biblical roots. The resolution draws inspiration from a similar proclamation issued by Ronald Reagan in 1983.

"The National Year of the Bible resolution reminds us that our great nation was founded upon biblical principles and that religious freedom is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights," said Broun.

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The member of Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, Ga., is encouraging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the resolution forward and give Obama a chance to sign it.

Ashley Horne, the federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family, told me her organization supports this extension of the idea that America is a Christian nation: "This country was founded on biblical principles and we have freedom of religion, so we can express those views."

But critics accused Broun of pushing his own personal religious agenda and disregarding the separation of church and state.

"This is Broun's last gasp for air," said David Silverman, spokesman for the non-profit group American Atheists. Silverman told me that the Bible says nothing about America, democracy, trial by jury, habeas corpus, or freedom of religion. "If Broun was simply interested in recognizing historical foundations," Silverman said, "he could have sponsored a national 'Year of the Bill of Rights' resolution."

Horne said such criticism is "nothing more than rhetoric." She countered that Broun's resolution is not a breach of the separation of church and state because there is no such separation defined in the Constitution.

Broun told Politico that his resolution has nothing to do with Christianity because it simply seeks to recognize the role the Bible had in the foundation of the country for people of all religions. The resolution calls upon all citizens "to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture."

Ronald Reagan's original proclamation recognized the contribution of the Bible in shaping the history and character of the Unites States. "I encourage all citizens, each in his or her own way, to reexamine and rediscover its priceless and timeless message," Reagan proclaimed.

A resolution does not create law, but it can make an official public declaration on behalf of Congress and the president. Broun's bill currently has 15 Republican co-sponsors.

Passage of the Year of the Bible resolution is unlikely. It would first need to get through the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, on which 22 of the 38 committee members are Democrats, before proceeding to the Democrat-controlled House.

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