In states from Texas to Oklahoma to Iowa, legislators have introduced resolutions that appear to proclaim Israel as a nation ordained by God. Most recently, the Texas enrolled SR 694 — a resolution introduced by Republican Senator Ken Paxton of McKinney, Texas and entitled “Commending Israel for its relationship with the United States.” It is not the title but the first sentence that is surprising: “WHEREAS, Israel has been granted her lands as recorded in the Old Testament.” That sounds a lot like saying that the nation of Israel is ordained by God and that religious claim is being ratified by the Texas legislature.
The first proclaimed fact in many of these bills introduced across the country is a whooper for those concerns about the wall of separation between church and state: “Israel has been granted her lands under and through the oldest recorded deed, as recorded in the Old Testament, a tome of scripture held sacred and revered by Jews and Christians, alike, as presenting the acts and words of God.”
The language has been duplicated and introduced in states across the country. It is rare for states with no foreign policy functions to hold forth on international matters of this kind. However, one could certainly understand the desire to affirm the close alliance between the United States and Israel. However, that can be express in a variety of ways referring to the countries and their history. There was a clear desire to have an expression of faith in the legislation — a faith-based claim that is not shared by many non-Christian and Jews including atheists and agnostics.
Do you consider this type of language appropriate?
Ken Paxton is a graduate of Virginia Law School. His campaign literature states that he “is an active charter member of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, where he has participated in various leadership roles.”
Here is the language of the Texas bill:
SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 694
WHEREAS, Israel has been granted her lands as recorded in the Old Testament; and
WHEREAS, The presence of the Jewish people in Israel has remained constant throughout the past 4,000 years of history; and
WHEREAS, The basis for the establishment of the modern State of Israel was a binding resolution under international law, which was unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922 and subsequently affirmed by both houses of the United States Congress; and
WHEREAS, This resolution affirmed the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in the historical region of the Land of Israel; and
WHEREAS, Israel declared its independence and self-governance on May 14, 1948, with the goal of reestablishing its lands as a homeland for the Jewish people; and
WHEREAS, The United States, having been the first country to recognize Israel as an independent nation and as Israel’s principal ally, has enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel and her people; and
WHEREAS, Israel is a great friend and ally of the United States in the Middle East; and
RESOLVED, That the Senate of the State of Texas, 83rd Legislature, hereby commend Israel for its cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States and with the State of Texas and support Israel in its right of self-governance and self-defense.