The Ultimate Legislative Finding of Fact: Congress Considering Resolution That Declares Holy Bible To Be God’s Word

randy-forbes2Courts routinely defer to legislative findings of fact, but this one may be a bit too ambitious. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), has introduced a resolution seeking to place the Lincoln-Obama bible on permanent display in the Capitol Visitor Center, a very good idea. However, the resolution includes the following line: “Whereas the Holy Bible is God’s Word.”

H. Con. Res. 34, a resolution states that Congress is “Calling upon the Capitol Preservation Commission and the Office of the Architect of the Capitol to place the Lincoln-Obama Bible on permanent display upon the Lincoln table at the Capitol Visitor Center for the benefit of all its visitors to fully understand and appreciate America’s history and Godly heritage.”

Rep. Forbes is the founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and may have some problem with non-believers, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and an assortment of other faiths which do not subscribe to that particular whereas finding of fact.

If Congress finds that the Bible is God’s word, would that make non-Christians and non-Jews legislatively defined blasphemers? Probably not, but then again Congress has not taken sides in the past due to that quirky Separation of Church and State thingy. Then again, people can finally claim to have found God in Congress (specifically the Visitor’s Center).

Not to buck the Almighty, but we may want to just work on moving the Bible to the visitor center and let the theologians continue to debate the whereas question for now. Of course, it is far easier to find that the bible is God’s word than to take that language out.

31 thoughts on “The Ultimate Legislative Finding of Fact: Congress Considering Resolution That Declares Holy Bible To Be God’s Word

  1. Rep. Forbes is simply continuing the ongoing effort of the Republican right to merge government and religion until we arrive at the desired destination, a country in which criticism of government is blasphemy and criticism of religion, treason. Objections will be met with the charge that the doctrine of separation of church and state is not intended to promote hostility toward religious belief and that “government speech” is not subject to the constraints of the First Amendment, as the Summum court recently reminded us. He is tossing red meat to the faithful base of his party to keep hope alive.

  2. All the resolution appears to be doing is making a declaration of what the bible is. It is not saying that it is part of the legislative process or that anyone needs to believe in it. To assume that just because a book designated as a book of God does not define whose God or that it is even other than a work of fiction. If they were to place a first editions of a Dr. Seuss’ books i.e. “If I ran the Circus” or “The Places You’ll Go” or the “Thinks You Can Think” or “Even Marvin K.Mooney Will You Go Now” does that mean the legislature is a circus, going, thinking, and getting rid of people. Mmmm there’s a thought what about Senator Brown can Moo can you? In other words the comment does not offend because it is not really a fact but a statement of opinion. Like the above is mine.

  3. Connie, your comments actually support mine. The “whereas” clauses that preface resolutions and legislation are not drafted for the purpose of flowery adornment. Their traditional role is to supply the findings and intentions of the legislating body, the underpinnings, if you will, of the legislative substance that follows. Your argument that the clause in question is an innocuous reflection of opinion only makes sense if the preamble to the resolution is regarded as surplusage. But that is not the case. I do not deny the historical significance of the Lincoln bible, nor the propriety of its exhibition in the visitor’s center. But it is highly inappropriate for the resolution to contain a “finding” that the document constitutes the word of God. You and others may regard it as nitpicking, but I believe that efforts to embrace Christianity as the state religion by stealth are as objectionable as, and perhaps more dangerous than, open legislative advocacy of that position.

  4. A quick thought experiment for the Congressman: “Where as the Qur’an Is Allah’s Word” “Where as The Torah is God’s Word” “Where as The Vedas are divinely revealed”

  5. MikeA:

    can they even do that? Congress is not a body of theologians so how do they know for sure? I agree with you however, it smacks of getting the camels nose under the tent.

    The idea that this guy would even think about it is rather scary on a number of levels. If they can say the bible is the word of God they can also say it isnt. My conservative bretheren are not really thinking this thing to the end, if they are then God help us all.

  6. Bron, ditto what Gyges said. And you’re right about Christian conservatives not thinking things through. When people perceive that they occupy majority status, they are prone to adopt measures that favor their views under the assumption that they will always have that status. Maintaining separation of church and state is important for the same reason that preserving all fundamental personal freedoms is important, the prevention of majority oppression of minorities. We have recently learned what the elimination of secular rule in Iraq has meant for Christian minorities in that country. There is certainly no guarantee that Christians will always dominate religious demographics in this country. Conservative Christian attempts to theocratize government will provide all of the necessary legal precedents required by emerging non-Christian groups to do the same thing at some point in the future. In the end, it is in the self-interest of all religions to divorce themselves from government. I just don’t understand why this is such a difficult concept for people to grasp.

  7. MikeA:

    I think they grasp it fine, they just dont believe that they will ever be in the minority and I think they truly believe that Gods law trumps mans law so they have no limitations on their quest for power, which is what it is in my opinion. Focus on the Family can “Focus on their own Damn Family” and leave mine alone.

    Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians scare hell out of me and I dont even read Playboy and really dont even drink or smoke. If they ever come to power I am taking up drinking, smoking and pronography on general libertarian principles.

  8. Thank you for the reminder, I will make sure but if I drink decent whisley/scotch and only smoke cigars I should be ok.

  9. I’m glad JT puts these things out there. I would have bought “Sowing Atheism” as a how to manual if he hadn’t set me straight!

    This idea is worrying for reasons others argued ably above and because it presents American as god’s chosen land. No thank you to that. Every country that claims this has done a great deal of harm under the mantle of god.

  10. I had no idea that Article I granted Congress the power to determine God’s word.

    Gee, ya learn something new every day.

  11. Bob

    There’s also the definition of which version of “The Bible” is or is not, “The Word of God”? Should Jews be required by law to agree that the Christian’s New Testament is, in fact, part of God’s Word A part they’ve previously rejected (…rejected Gods’s Word for centuries? Oops!) That would present Muslims with the same dilemma? Conversely, should Muslims be required to accept any if the Old Testament beyond Abraham? Or Christian ignore the birth, life and teachings of their Savior?

    It’s the blatent contempt for the of Constitution that so riles me with these attempts to subvert one of our most basic and uniquely American rights.

  12. rcampbell, good point. For that matter, why should Catholics consent to a legislative finding that the King James Version (as slightly abridged by Jefferson) represents the “word of God,” as opposed to the Latin Vulgate or other authorized Catholic translations?

  13. rcampbell,

    Yeah, I thought of the “what version” argument too, but that sixth sense for the jugular kicked in as always.

    There’s a great quote from the TV show House M.D. that sums it up:

    Dr. House: You wake up in the morning, your paint’s peeling, your curtains are gone, and your water is boiling, which problem do you deal with first?!

    Dr. House: None of them, the building’s on fire!

    Article I, ‘The House is on fire,’ etc., etc.



  14. The fools of Forbes ilk don’t know enough to know that there are different version of the Cristian Bible, just as they don’t know that all translations of Torah are not in agreement. That
    doesn’t even get into the fact that both the Torah and the Gospels contain many internal contradictions that would make “God’s Word” quite difficult to interpret. Its been said that ignorance is bliss, but with these clowns it is dangerous and harmful.

  15. Gyges,

    You should really sit down and read Federalist 84; maybe a few times. Once you get a handle on what Hamilton’s saying, you’ll almost never start with an Amendment in your arguments again.

    Rights confer power; not vice versa.




    See quote from House M.D. for metaphor above.

  16. Mike A.,
    good job on your comments on this thread. This type of legislative attempt to mix religion and government is another misguided Republican attempt to create a Taliban-like religious government here in the U.S. We are fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan now, we don’t need another Taliban government here.

  17. What?!? No one is going to stick up for the Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster? You’re all mad, mad I tell you!

    There is no god but teh Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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