The Freedom From Religion Foundation is condemning an alarmingly misguided Pennsylvania House of Representatives resolution calling for a day of prayer and fasting in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution, introduced by Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, is rife with theocratic religious claims and suggests that the best response to the virus is for Pennsylvanians to “repent their sins.”
The resolution calls for a day of prayer and fasting on March 30, requesting that all Pennsylvanians “abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits,” in order to “keep the day holy to the Lord.” This call for an abstention from “ordinary secular pursuits” does not even make an exception for doctors and nurses, whose secular pursuits are to keep people healthy and help them survive the pandemic.
It includes many references that improperly portray the state of Pennsylvania as if it were a religious entity:
- “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions.”
- “. . . recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
- “The House of Representatives devoutly recognizes the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations.”
- “ . . . we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world.”
- “But we have forgotten God and we have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us.”
- “We have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
- “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
The resolution concludes that our failure to properly worship Borowicz’s deity is the cause of the pandemic, and calls on Pennsylvanians to confess their “sins in a hope for divine relief”:
- “It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
- “May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of the pandemic, which now desolates this Commonwealth may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?”
- “With assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.”
FFRF notes that Borowicz’s resolution flagrantly disregards the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which requires that government action have a secular purpose and prohibits public officials from using their position to advance personal religious beliefs. Borowicz swore an oath to uphold the godless and entirely secular U.S. Constitution, and betrays that oath by advancing this resolution.
“This resolution is un-American theocratic nonsense,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. Passing the resolution would send an unfortunate message that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives thinks that praying and undereating can curb the spread of a global pandemic. Pennsylvanians need to be reassured that their leaders are pursuing the best scientific, rational measures to meet this crisis, and should be told to do the same.
Members of the Pennsylvania House should reject this irrational proposal out of hand and focus on addressing this real-world crisis with real-world solutions.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonreligious nonprofit with more than 30,000 members and several chapters across the country, including 800-plus members and a chapter in Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of state-church separation.