Nighty-Night: That's Me Putting to Bed the Idea that the Democrats are a Party of Secularists

Care of Petulant comes this video of House Democrats (and one Republican) taking to the House floor to read from the Bible and sing its praises in celebration of National Bible Week (which doesn't start until November 18th). From cooing about how the science committee room is emblazoned with a Bible verse to telling us that the Bible contains everything we need to know to pretending atheists don't exist to asserting that faith has "a role that may be more important today, in these dangerous and complicated times, than ever before" without a trace of irony about obliquely referencing a danger attributable to religious fundamentalism, this line-up has got. it. all.

Below, I've provided a transcription of the first four speakers (the Democrats), which took me forever—hence my leaving off the GOP dude.

Rep Mike Mcintyre (D-NC): Mr. Speaker, what a privilege it is to speak on National Bible Week, as we celebrate the written word of God, as we anticipate the upcoming celebration the week of November 18th through 25th. In fact, this book, the number one best-seller of all time, the book is known of a book of encouragement, a book of enlightenment, and a book of edification.

Encouragement! When I think about what the Bible has meant to me, I remember some of the great verses from the Old Testament, such as Joshua 1:9: "To be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord God will be with you wherever you go." And Psalm 118:13-15 says: "I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord has helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation." And in Psalm 138:8, which precedes my favorite Psalm, 139, it says: "The Lord will accomplish that which concerns me. Your love, oh Lord, endures forever." When we think, in this day, when so many people are discouraged, I know, as we celebrate National Bible Week, that the Bible has been a word of encouragement that I've experienced, and I know many others have.

In addition to encouragement, it's a word of enlightenment. Psalm 119 says: "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. The unfolding of your word gives light. It gives understanding to the simple." And as many of my friends back home in North Carolina know, my favorite Old Testament verse is from Proverbs 29:18 that says: "Where there's no vision, the people perish." And I think that's a great challenge to all of us, as leaders in this country—to have vision for where we want to take our country and what we want to do and how we want to solve the problems. In fact, this verse, "Where there's no vision, the people perish," is inscribed in our own science committee room in the Rayburn House office building.

In addition to encouragement and enlightenment, the Bible is a book of edification. Paul writes in the Book of Romans that, in Chapter 10, verse 17, that: "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word." And then James reminds us, in Chapter 1, verse 22, that we should be "doers of the word, and not hearers only."

The Bible allows us to see ourselves, through its many stories and parables and prophecies and teachings. It also shows the flaws and frailties that we all share in common in humanity. But it also shows the fellowship of human and divine that calls forth those values that so often we look for in our society today—values of forgiveness, of faithfulness, and of fulfillment in becoming all that we know we can become.

I'm grateful that we take time in this country to celebrate the National Week of the Bible, coming up the week of November 18th through 25th, and that we would take time tonight to celebrate not only the historical importance, but the personal importance that this great book, the best-seller of all time, has for, literally, the world over.

With that, I yield the remainder of my time.


Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last weekend, I spoke on a panel about civics and civility at Kansas State University, and, during the question-and-answer time, a teacher stood up and asked me a question. She said, "Do you know of any book that might be, like, a checklist that I could share, be a checklist on teaching my kids civics and civility?" And I thought for a minute, and I said, "As a matter of fact, I do." And I'm holding it right here in my hand, Mr. Speaker. It is the Bible.

This particular copy was my mother's Bible, and it's the one that I was sworn in, uh, last January, so it has, it has a great deal of meaning to me.

The lessons in the Bible are truly a checklist for decent living. In Matthew 22, when the disciples ask what are the, what's the greatest commandment, it's to love our God, with all of our heart and soul and mind. And the second is likened to it: To love thy neighbor as thyself. And then he says, on these hang all the laws, and the prophets.

Love thy neighbor as thyself. Very clear. Judge not, lest ye be judged. The Bible has all the wisdom that we need to bring our country together—and that's why I'm glad the House is pausing tonight to recognize the start of National Bible Week.

Faith has an important role to play in the lives of all Americans. It's a role that may be more important today, in these dangerous and complicated times, than ever before. And it's a role that we, yes, we as public servants have to defend.

Just last month, the Architect of the Capitol refused to fulfill a citizen's request for a flag certificate that referred to devotion to God. Just last week, the National Cemetery Administration banned a flag-folding ceremony used at veterans' funerals because of references to God! Let's be clear: Neither mentioning God in a flag certificate, nor speaking of God in a funeral ceremony, poses any threat to the separation of church and state. Not only is speaking about religion permitted by the Constitution, it's a right that's protected by the First Amendment. Thankfully, both of these bans have been reversed—and not a moment too soon!

As we begin National Bible Week, I hope that all of my colleagues and citizens across America will pause to recognize the full, the role that faith plays in all of our lives, and to reflect on the lessons of the Bible. It's our guidebook. It's our guidebook to civics and civility, as well. It's our how-to guide for public service, everything we need is right here, folks. [holds up Bible] It's right here between these two covers.

I yield back.


Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL): …Bible reader. I was always in and around the church, but, as so many of us who belong to church, I was into church, but church wasn't in me. And, Mr. Speaker, I came to this Congress in 1993, and, almost immediately upon my presence here, I received a Bible similar to this, given by Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy, and, Mr. Speaker, I found my evenings alone, my wife and my family back in Chicago, and somehow I was, had a prompting to pick up the Bible and to read the Bible. I must admit, Mr. Speaker, that, although I wasn't an ardent reader, now I am a ferocious reader of the Bible—avaricious in terms of the words recorded in God's living book.

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I have been renewed as a man by the renewing of my mind according to the dictates and the spirit that's incorporated in the reading of the Bible. I am a changed man. I am a new man. I don't have the same fears I used to have. I don't walk the same way; I don't walk the same way—and it's all because of this Bible.


Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC): …It was asked of me what kind of guarantee did I have that this water project would be seen to fruition. This morning, we dedicated the first phase, and there are two others. In answering the question, I referred to the greatest of all books—the Bible. And I referred to the Book of Hebrew [sic], the eleventh chapter. I call that the faith chapter of the Bible, and I quoted Hebrew [sic] 11:1: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen." I quoted that because, in our work here, much of the time, though we don't view our work as being grounded in the Bible, we often strike out on faith. We have little idea sometimes of exactly where any issue is going, and I do believe that, as we carry out our duties and responsibilities to the people of this great nation, sometimes we ought to pause and give credence to exactly where all that emanates from.

And so I am pleased that my good friend from Illinois asked me to come down tonight and to join in this special order commemorating the Bible during National Bible Week.

When I was growing up, my father, who was a fundamentalist minister, never asked me to read the Bible, never instructed me to do so. He just told me every morning at the breakfast table [inaudible] recite a Bible verse. Now, it would be a little difficult to do that without reading the Bible. He made sure that we didn't do the same one twice, and then he set down the rule. He took Jesus' [???] off the table. And so it was very, very important for me to read the Bible daily. He also had a second rule, and that is every night before we turned to bed, we had to share with our parents, or one of them, some current event, and he would often have ways of showing us how that particular event that we may have shared was grounded in the Good Book.

And so long before I became House Majority Whip, I assumed the leadership of the Democrats' Faith Working Group, and for the last three years now, Mr. Speaker, it has been my great joy to work with the members of our caucus, trying to get our membership comfortable with the fact that our work here is, in fact, faith-based.

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