Proclamation 5018 -- Year of the Bible, 1983
February 3, 1983
By the President of the United States of America
Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of
America into a distinctive Nation and people, none may be said to be
more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.
Deep religious beliefs stemming from the Old and New Testaments of
the Bible inspired many of the early settlers of our country,
providing them with the strength, character, convictions, and faith
necessary to withstand great hardship and danger in this new and
rugged land. These shared beliefs helped forge a sense of common
purpose among the widely dispersed colonies -- a sense of community
which laid the foundation for the spirit of nationhood that was to
develop in later decades.
The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding
Fathers' abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual,
rights which they found implicit in the Bible's teachings of the
inherent worth and dignity of each individual. This same sense of man
patterned the convictions of those who framed the English system of
law inherited by our own Nation, as well as the ideals set forth in
the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
For centuries the Bible's emphasis on compassion and love for our
neighbor has inspired institutional and governmental expressions of
benevolent outreach such as private charity, the establishment of
schools and hospitals, and the abolition of slavery.
Many of our greatest national leaders -- among them Presidents
Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson -- have recognized the
influence of the Bible on our country's development. The plainspoken
Andrew Jackson referred to the Bible as no less than ``the rock on
which our Republic rests.'' Today our beloved America and, indeed, the
world, is facing a decade of enormous challenge. As a people we may
well be tested as we have seldom, if ever, been tested before. We will
need resources of spirit even more than resources of technology,
education, and armaments. There could be no more fitting moment than
now to reflect with gratitude, humility, and urgency upon the wisdom
revealed to us in the writing that Abraham Lincoln called ``the best
gift God has ever given to man . . . But for it we could not know
right from wrong.''
The Congress of the United States, in recognition of the unique
contribution of the Bible in shaping the history and character of this
Nation, and so many of its citizens, has by Senate Joint Resolution
165 authorized and requested the President to designate the year 1983
as the ``Year of the Bible.''
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of
America, in recognition of the contributions and influence of the
Bible on our Republic and our people, do hereby proclaim 1983 the Year
of the Bible in the United States. I encourage all citizens, each in
his or her own way, to reexamine and rediscover its priceless and
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of
February, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three,
and of the Independence of the United States of America the two
hundred and seventh.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:10 a.m.,
February 3, 1983]
President Reagan's Remarks at the
Annual National Prayer Breakfast
February 3, 1983
Thank you all very much, all our friends and distinguished guests
here at the head table and all of you very distinguished people.
General Vessey [Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr., Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff], I'm terribly tempted to call for a vote right now on
the defense budget. [Laughter]
Nancy and I are delighted to be with you here this morning.
You know, on the way over, I remembered something that happened a
long time ago when teachers could talk about things like religion in
the classroom. And a very lovely teacher was talking to her class of
young boys, and she asked, "How many of you would like to go to
heaven?'' And all the hands instantly shot into the air at once,
except one, and she was astounded. And she said, "Charlie, you mean
you don't want to go to heaven?'' He said, "Sure, I want to go to
heaven, but not with that bunch.'' [Laughter]
Maybe there's a little bit of Charlie in each of us. [Laughter] But
somehow I don't think that wanting to go to heaven, but only on our
terms, and certainly not with that other bunch, is quite what God had
in mind. The prayer that I sometimes think we don't often use enough
-- and one that I learned a few years ago and only after I had gotten
into the business that I'm in -- is one of asking forgiveness for the
resentment and the bitterness that we sometimes feel towards someone,
whether it's in business dealings or in government or whatever we're
doing, and forgetting that we are brothers and sisters and that each
of them is loved equally by God as much as we feel that He loves us.
I'm so thankful that there will always be one day in the year when
people all over our land can sit down as neighbors and friends and
remind ourselves of what our real task is. This task was spelled out
in the Old and the New Testament. Jesus was asked, "Master, which is
the great commandment in the law?'' And He replied, "Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with
all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. The second is
like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two
commandments hang all the law and the prophets.''
Can we resolve to reach, learn, and try to heed the greatest
message ever written -- God's word and the Holy Bible. Inside its
pages lie all the answers to all the problems that man has ever known.
Now, I am assuming a new position; but I should warn our friends in
the loyal opposition, this new job won't require me to leave the White
House. With the greatest enthusiasm, I have agreed to serve as
honorary chairman for the Year of the Bible.
When we think how many people in the world are imprisoned or
tortured, harassed for even possessing a Bible or trying to read one
-- something that maybe we should realize how -- and take advantage of
what we can do so easily. In its lessons and the great wealth of its
words, we find comfort, strength, wisdom, and hope. And when we find
ourselves feeling a little like Charlie, we might remember something
that Abraham Lincoln said over a hundred years ago: ``We have
forgotten the gracious hand that preserved us in peace, and multiplied
and enriched and strengthened us; and 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 . . . we have become too
proud to pray to the God that made us!'' Well, isn't it time for us to
say, ``We're not too proud to pray''?
We face great challenges in this country, but we've faced great
challenges before and conquered them. What carried us through was a
willingness to seek power and protection from One much greater than
ourselves, to turn back to Him and to trust in His mercy. Without His
help, America will not go forward.
I have a very special old Bible. And alongside a verse in the
Second Book of Chronicles there are some words, handwritten, very
faded by now. And, believe me, the person who wrote those words was an
authority. Her name was Nelle Wilson Reagan. She was my mother. And
she wrote about that verse, ``A most wonderful verse for the healing
of the nations.''
Now, the verse that she'd marked reads: ``If my people, which are
called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my
face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven .
. . and will heal their land.''
I know that at times all of us -- I do -- feel that perhaps in our
prayers we ask for too much. And then there are those other times when
we feel that something isn't important enough to bother God with it.
Maybe we should let Him decide those things.
The war correspondent Marguerite Higgins, who received the Pulitzer
Prize for International Reporting because of her coverage of the
Korean war, among all her writings had an account one day of the Fifth
Company of marines who were part of an 18,000-man force that was in
combat with a hundred thousand of the enemy. And she described an
incident that took place early, just after dawn on a very cold
morning. It was 42 degrees below zero. And the weary marines, half
frozen stood by their dirty, mud-covered trucks, eating their
breakfast from tin cans.
She saw one huge marine was eating cold beans with a trench knife.
His clothes were frozen stiff as a board; his face was covered with a
heavy beard and crusted with mud. And one of the little group of war
correspondents who were on hand went up to him and said, "If I were
God and could grant you anything you wished, what would you most
like?'' And the marine stood there for a moment, looking down at that
cold tin of beans, and then he raised his head and said, "Give me
Now I would like to sign a proclamation which will make 1983 the
Year of the Bible. And I want to thank Senator Bill Armstrong and
Representative Carlos Moorhead and all those inside and outside of
Congress who assisted them and made this all possible. Thank you, and
God bless you. And I'm going down and sign the proclamation.
Note: The President spoke at 9:03 a.m. in the International
Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
CONGRESS DECLARES THE BIBLE
“THE WORD OF GOD”
Congress Joint Resolution
[S.J.Res. 165] 96 Stat. 1211
Public Law 97-280 - October 4, 1982
Joint Resolution authorizing and requesting the
President to proclaim 1983 as the “Year of the Bible.”
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
the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which
our Republic rests”;
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 before; and
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 assembled, That the President is
authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a national “Year of the
Bible” in 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.
Approved October 4, 1982.
1 U.S. Cong. & Adm. News '82-29 96 Stat. 1211
Legislative History - S.J. Res. 165:
Congressional Record. Vol 128 (1982)
Mar. 31 considered and passed Senate.
Sept. 21 Considered and passed House.
by Pastor Sheldon Emry
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES
BY AN ACT OF CONGRESS
HAS DECLARED THAT THE BIBLE
IS "THE WORD OF GOD" AND "HOLY SCRIPTURE"
THE LAW-MAKING BODY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE U. S.
CONGRESS, HAS OFFICIALLY DECLARED THE HOLY BIBLE TO BE "THE WORD OF
Public Law 97-280 states "that renewing our knowledge of and faith in
God through the Holy Scriptures can strengthen us as a nation and a
people." The Congress further found that the United States has a
"national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy
Congress said, "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." Therefore,
disobedience to this Law should be discouraged in our own communities
and in the nation at large. Under Public Law 97-280 any person or
organization attempting in any way to prevent American citizens from
voluntarily acquiring that "knowledge of and faith in God through the
Holy Scriptures' 'would be attempting to weaken America. They would be
guilty of trying to frustrate "our national need to study and apply
the teachings of the Holy Scriptures." Such actions would be in
violation of the plain intent of Public Law 97-280 and would probably
make the instigators guilty of sedition against the United States of
Examples of disobedience to this Law would be any attempts to ban the
Bible from the public schools, to actively oppose any Bible study
group, or to interfere in any way with a Christian Church in its study
and dissemination of "the teachings of the Holy Scriptures." Any
interference with any mail carrying Bible related literature or with
any radio or TV broadcast about the Bible would be in violation of
On the positive side, filling that "national need to study and apply
the teachings of the Holy Scriptures" should become one of the goals
of those in government at all levels. Public servants should take
action in their own departments or under their own realm of authority
to conform to Public Law 97-280. All Elementary and High School
Principals, Superintendents and College Presidents should be urged to
take immediate steps to add courses of Bible study to their school's
curriculum to bring them into conformity with the intent of the
People's Congress. To strengthen our nation, courses of study of "the
Holy Scriptures" should be made a part of every public and private
The People of the United States, through their elected Representatives
in the U.S. Congress have spoken. Public Law 97-280, with its
forthright declaration that the Book which tells the story of Jesus
Christ is "the Word of God," and its positive statements about the
benefits to our nation and our People which come from "the Holy
Scriptures," can be another significant step toward that day when
"every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory
of God the Father." America, whether she at this time understands the
full significance of this or not, has proclaimed to her own citizens
and to the World that America's well-being depends on how well she
knows and applies the "teachings of the Holy Scripture." We should all
pray that God Almighty will bless America by giving her elected
Representatives in Congress the wisdom and the ability to act
faithfully upon their own words as stated in Public Law 97-280.
Executive Order 6100, EO 6100
DATE: 02-22-90 The President
International Year of Bible Reading - 1990
By the President of the United States
George H. W. Bush
Among the great books produced throughout the history of mankind,
the Bible has been prized above all others by generations of men and
women around the world -- by people of every age, every race, and
every walk of life.
The Bible has had a critical impact upon the development of Western
civilization. Western literature, art, and music are filled with
images and ideas that can be traced to its pages. More important, our
moral tradition has been shaped by the laws and teachings it contains.
It was a biblical view of man -- one affirming the dignity and worth
of the human person, made in the image of our Creator -- that inspired
the principles upon which the United States is founded. President
Jackson called the Bible ``the rock on which our Republic rests''
because he knew that it shaped the Founding Fathers' concept of
individual liberty and their vision of a free and just society.
The Bible has not only influenced the development of our Nation's
values and institutions but also enriched the daily lives of millions
of men and women who have looked to it for comfort, hope, and
guidance. On the American frontier, the Bible was often the only book
a family owned. For those pioneers living far from any church or
school, it served both as a source of religious instruction and as the
primary text from which children learned to read. The historic
speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., provide
compelling evidence of the role Scripture played in shaping the
struggle against slavery and discrimination. Today the Bible continues
to give courage and direction to those who seek truth and
righteousness. In recognizing its enduring value, we recall the words
of the prophet Isaiah, who declared, ``The grass withereth, the flower
fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.''
Containing revelations of God's intervention in human history, the
Bible offers moving testimony to His love for mankind. Treasuring the
Bible as a source of knowledge and inspiration, President Abraham
Lincoln called this Great Book ``the best gift God has given to man.''
President Lincoln believed that the Bible not only reveals the
infinite goodness of our Creator, but also reminds us of our worth as
individuals and our responsibilities toward one another.
President Woodrow Wilson likewise recognized the importance of the
Bible to its readers. ``The Bible is the word of life,'' he once said.
Describing its contents, he added:
You will find it full of real men and women not only but also of the
things you have wondered about and been troubled about all your life,
as men have been always; and the more you will read it the more it
will become plain to you what things are worthwhile and what are not,
what things make men happy -- loyalty, right dealing, speaking the
truth . . . and the things that are guaranteed to make men unhappy --
selfishness, cowardice, greed, and everything that is low and mean.
When you have read the Bible you will know that it is the Word of God,
because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own
happiness, and your own duty.
President Wilson believed that the Bible helps its readers find
answers to the mysteries and sorrows that often trouble the souls of
Cherished for centuries by men and women around the world, the Bible's
value is timeless. Its significance transcends the boundaries between
nations and languages because it carries a universal message to every
human heart. This year numerous individuals and associations around
the world will join in a campaign to encourage voluntary study of the
Bible. Their efforts are worthy of recognition and support.
In acknowledgment of the inestimable value and timeless appeal of the
Bible, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 164, has designated
the year 1990 as the ``International Year of Bible Reading'' and has
authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in
observance of this year.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States
of America, do hereby proclaim the year 1990 as the International Year
of Bible Reading. I invite all Americans to discover the great
inspiration and knowledge that can be obtained through thoughtful
reading of the Bible.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-second day of February, in the year of our Lord nineteen
hundred and ninety, and of the Independence of the United States of
America the two hundred and fourteenth.
PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH