By Sandhya Bathija
Of all the things Congress should and could be spending time on, a resolution celebrating the influence of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is certainly not one of them.
Yet U.S. Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) have introduced a measure doing just that. In conjunction with the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, these members of the U.S. House have penned H. Con. Res. 38, which notes the “influence” the KJV has had on “countless families, individuals, and institutions” and “expresses…gratitude for the influence it has bestowed upon the United States.”
What’s more, the resolution claims that the “teachings of Scriptures, particularly read from the King James Scriptures, have inspired concepts of civil government contained in our founding documents, and subsequent laws.”
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That’s a bit of a reach. Our laws are in no way based on any religious text. And, furthermore, it’s not the job of Congress to favor a religious view – particularly one from a group that believes President Barack Obama could be the Antichrist.
You read that right. A small Michigan-based non-profit called the Bible Nation Society (BNS) came to Washington to lobby for this measure during the budget debate last month.
The society is an affiliate of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Corunna, Mich. It was founded by the congregation’s pastor, Douglas Levesque. In 2010, at the BNS “Bible in Culture” conference, Levesque revealed his conspiracy theory on why Obama could be the Antichrist.
According to Religion Dispatches, Levesque claimed that Obama “twist[s] the word of God” and “the Antichrist Quotient goes up above and beyond for someone who would so blatantly attack the word of God.” He added, “This man offends me, this man offends my God.”
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This is who members of Congress are taking advice from?
BNS Executive Director Jason Georges told Religion Dispatches that his group has no interest “promoting a theocratic state,” but just wants to alert our government officials that they could find answers to our nation’s problems in the King James Bible.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, rightfully thinks Georges is on the wrong track and hope Congress keeps its distance.
“The resolution is completely outside the realm of congressional expertise or interest,” he told Religion Dispatches. “It’s mind-numbing to think that anyone would think about passing this at a time when we have fiscal, foreign policy and other matters of greater weight.”
While the Bible Nation Society has every right to promote its ultra-fundamentalist religious perspective, it should not have the help of Congress. The House of Representatives returns today; members should absolutely not adopt this misguided resolution.