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10 Thoughts on the Role of the Bible in America
By Bill Shuler
Pastor, Capital Life Church, Arlington, Virginia
This past week a nation took notice when a San Diego couple was ordered to stop holding Bible studies in their home without a permit. (The order was rescinded after public outrage.) In an unrelated story, a U.S. Court in Pennsylvania ruled that the Bible could not be read during a show and tell time when a kindergartner brought what he described as his, “favorite book” to class. Is it possible that a nation that has such a rich history of going to the Scriptures for guidance now is in the process of turning its back on the same? The following are 10 thoughts on the role of the Bible in America:
1. In a review of nearly 15,000 items written by our founding fathers, the Bible was the most quoted of any source material.
2. George Washington and successive U.S. Presidents have been sworn into office placing their hands on the very book that is now unwelcome in many public schools.
3. “The Bible is worth more than all other books which have ever been printed” — Patrick Henry
4. “The Bible is the best book in the world” – John Adams
5. If the Bible is “just a book,” it should not be uniquely excluded.
6. If the Bible is more than “just a book,” it is to our folly to exclude it.
7. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” — The Bill of Rights
8. “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education” — Theodore Roosevelt
9. “We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the republic.” — Franklin Roosevelt
10. “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man” – Abraham Lincoln
As Ronald Reagan is honored with a statue in the Capitol Rotunda, I think of the Congressional Proclamation he applauded, signed and implemented, declaring 1983 as a national “Year of the Bible.” Here’s the text:
Whereas the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;
Whereas deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation;
Whereas Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the United States;
Whereas many of our great national leaders—among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson—paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests”;
Whereas the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies;
Whereas this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; and
Whereas that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a national “Year of the Bible” in recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our Nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
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