This resolution — still in its infancy, without all of the official markings including sponsors and co-sponsors — is yet another obvious overlap of religion and government in Pennsylvania promoting the myth that the United States is a Christian nation and eroding the secular character of public schools. Lawmakers apparently have nothing better to do.
According to this resolution, the founders of the United States believed “the self-evident truth that rights of life and liberty are an endowment from our Creator.” Many of the founding fathers may have believed a creator of the universe existed, but this was an impersonal creator very much different than the Judeo-Christian god that this resolution later references.
Regardless, individuals’ personal beliefs about a creator of the universe do not translate into the notion that we are a ‘Christian nation’ as this resolution and others may assume.
Next, the resolution states, “The people of this Commonwealth have affirmed, in the Constitution of Pennsylvania, their belief in God and their thanksgiving for His blessings of civil and religious liberty.” The ‘blessings’ of civil and religious liberty are not enshrined in the United States because of a divine intervention, but rather exist because the government with the United States Constitution — not any gods — grants and recognizes these rights.
The House of Representatives, noting these previously mentioned items and more in their resolution, seeks to recognize the anniversary of “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to “recognize and honor such an important date, which strengthens the ties of history that bind us to our Judeo-Christian heritage.”
Once again, lawmakers in Pennsylvania waste time pushing the envelope of church/state separation while masquerading under the cheap tuxedo of ‘ceremonial deism’ and ‘Judeo-Christian heritage.’ Rather than commemorating the inclusion of “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, lawmakers should either ignore this inclusion or oppose it – especially since public school classrooms of captive audiences across the United States, from kindergarten to 12th grade, feature daily recitations of the pledge which conflate religiosity (of a very particular kind) with patriotism.
Some may consider this resolution to be a ‘small issue,’ perhaps having no immediate effect, but it gives credence to the ‘Christian nation’ myth, provides a foundation by which ‘larger issues’ use resolutions like these for justification, and erodes the secularity of public schools.
As months go by, religion continues to creep into Pennsylvania’s government proceedings. Whether lawmakers attempt to mandate public schools display “In God We Trust,” mayors consider the free speech of atheists to be “unfortunate,” city councils initiate government-led prayer at council meetings, house representatives approve/introduce “The Year of the Bible” legislation, Prayer Month legislation, The Year of Religious Diversity legislation, an attempt to remove anonymity from individuals engaging in lawsuits seeking to uphold the separation of church and state, an attempt to criminalize “profane discourse” outside houses of worship, National Fast Day legislation, or American Religious History Week legislation, Pennsylvania lawmakers continue to erode the wall separating church and state. The list sadly continues to grow.
As always, feel free to comment below. I hope to provide more information about this resolution as it advances.
Thanks to Carl Silverman for the tip inspiring this piece!