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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: June 4, 2013 02:04 PM
From: Representative Mark B. Cohen
To: All House members
Subject: Repeal of Section 1516, Public School Code - mandated bible reading in public schools
I plan to introduce legislation in the very near future that would repeal Section 1516 of the Public School Code of 1949 (P.L. 30, No. 14), Bible Reading in Public Schools, requiring the reading of at least ten verses from the Holy Bible at the opening of each public school on each school day.

My legislation to repeal this unenforceable section of the Public School Code would be consistent with the decision of the United States Supreme Court striking down public school-sponsored Bible reading and prayer as unconstitutional in the landmark case School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp, decided on June 17, 1963. Note the stirring words of Justice Tom C. Clark in that decision:

"The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind. We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard. In the relationship between man and religion, the State is firmly committed to a position of neutrality."

Please join me in repealing Section 1516 of the Public School Code mandating the reading of the Holy Bible in public schools, updating the code and making it consistent with the Supreme Court ruling in the Schempp case.

If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Seidl of my office at kseidl@pahouse.net or

Thank you.

Introduced as HB1511