It is a safe bet that many Americans, especially those of the millennial generation, do not know that their federal government officially declared the Christian Bible (hereafter called “the Bible”) to be the word of God and rock on which America stands. As explained below, thirty-seven years ago in 1982, the United States Congress and the President of the United States did just that!
This is extremely important information to know because the word of God, the creator of the universe, is constant from generation to generation and human beings would indeed be very wise to adhere to what God says. God’s word can be found on the pages of the Bible which was written over approximately 1500 years by over 40 different inspired authors.
Some pastors state that the overall basic message of the Bible is to inform human beings, God’s creations, how to live an eternal life with God, i.e., “go to heaven”, after earthly bodies die. The Bible also lays out various guidelines and instructions for human interaction and daily life, all intended for the good health and benefit of men and women.
In 1982, members of the 97th Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, decided to celebrate and honor in a very special way the two hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty in 1783 ending the American War for Independence. As part of this anniversary, members of Congress wanted to recognize the Bible’s unique contribution to the foundation of America and the many blessings that have followed.
Thus in late 1982, Senate Joint Resolution 165 authorized and requested President Ronald Reagan to designate the year 1983 as the “Year of the Bible.” On October 4, 1982, President Reagan signed Public Law 97-280 (full text below) accomplishing what the members of Congress had requested. One may ask why is it important for this facet of American history to be understood and appreciated, especially in the year 2019?
A short answer to the above question is that today, sadly, many Americans do not realize the extent to which the founders of America and subsequent generations of Americans have believed that reliance on God’s word in the Bible is critical for the continued success and survival of the “American experiment”. Unlike socialism, fascism, or communism, the American constitutional republic largely is based on the three pillars of maximum individual liberty, limited government, and private property ownership.
The 1982 joint House and Senate resolution quotes President Andrew Jackson saying that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests.” The resolution acknowledges “the value of voluntarily applying the teaching of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies,” and calls upon the nation to “to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
Today, there appear to be a growing number of people, especially young Americans, who doubt the reliability and truthfulness of the scriptures in the Bible. In this regard, Time Magazine featured a cover story in December 1995 entitled “Is The Bible Fact or Fiction?” The article stated that the Bible has been subjected to more intense scrutiny and examination in the past 100 years than any other single book in history. Rather than suffering from all the scrutiny, the article concluded that the Bible has proven to be historically accurate and more trustworthy than some scholars had thought possible (or willing to admit).
In conclusion, many millions of Americans throughout the nation’s history, including the members of the 97th Congress and President Ronald Reagan, believed that it is truly important and essential for America’s survival that its citizens believe and trust in the scriptures of the Bible, God’s word. A continued obedience to God’s word is essential for America’s future and destiny as a constitutional republic.
Following is the 1982 Congressional Joint Resolution/Public Law 97-280:
UNITED STATES CONGRESS
Resolution/Public Law 97-280
Whereas the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United
States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;
Whereas deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early
settlement of our Nation;
Whereas Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States;
Whereas many of our great national leaders-among them Presidents Washington, Jackson,
Lincoln, and Wilson-paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s
development, as in the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which our
Whereas the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings
of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies;
Whereas this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested
Whereas that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen
us as a nation and a people:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our Nation, and our national
need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
Thomas P. O’Neill Strom Thurmond
Speaker of the House President of the Senate – Pro Tempore
October 4, 1982
by, Paul Gardiner
Paul S. Gardiner is an avid lover of America living in Hoschton, Georgia. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Alabama, and the Army War College.