When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, 2009, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) hopes you’ll be ringing in “the Year of the Bible.”
It’s probably just wishful thinking.
Broun’s simple congressional resolution aimed at honoring the Good Book has produced a push-back of biblical proportion in the blogosphere, with critics dismissing it as either unconstitutional or a waste of time. Jews in Congress and atheist activists are dismissing the resolution, while none of the many Democrats in Congress who are Christian have bothered to sign on as co-sponsors.
According to GovTrak.us, the resolution is among the most-blogged-about pieces of legislation, with most posts less than complimentary in nature.
“Does that mean 2009 is not the year of the Bible?” mocked Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is Jewish. “What is 2012 the year of? The Quran?”
“That’s an endorsement of religion by the federal government, and we shouldn’t be doing that,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), even though he has introduced his own legislation dealing with religion.
“Republican lawmakers with apparently too much time on their hands and no solutions to offer the country are pushing a resolution that will not address the nation’s problems or advance prosperity or even untangle their previous governing mistakes,” blogged the Progressive Puppy.
Broun rejects the critiques leveled at this effort.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity,” he said in an interview with POLITICO. Rather, he says, it seeks to recognize that the Bible played an integral role in the building of the United States, including providing the basis for our freedom of religion that allows Muslims, Hindus and even atheists to vocalize their own beliefs.
And even as Nadler criticized Broun, he has done his own share of mixing religion and legislation.
Last year, he introduced a bill that would overturn a federal appeals court ruling — an “idiot” decision, he says — that a condominium board in Chicago had the right to ban Jews from installing mezuzahs, which consist of a piece of parchment inscribed with a specific religious text put inside a case and hung on a door frame.
Condo boards shouldn’t be able to interfere in an individual’s right to practice his or her religion, Nadler said.
But he himself declined to install a mezuzah on his congressional office door when asked by a rabbi, even though he does so at home.