Proclamation 5018 | Maybe we can celebrate another “Year of the Bible” again… someday


I want to share with you something that many of you may not have ever heard of, or for those who have, you are likely to have forgotten about… The year was 1982 and the 97th Congress took a bold step, one that perhaps we need to take again. The House and the Senate passed Joint Resolution 165, in which Congress asked President Reagan to declare the year 1983 to be the “Year of the Bible”.

Times were different in America back then… the social climate was different, the idea of political correctness wasn’t even on the horizon yet, and people lived with a sense of purpose towards America. The idea of honoring both, exceptionalism in America, and our historical heritage seemed appropriate. We just didn’t have the pressures of the ‘secular left’ attempting to run the country’s narrative in the post-Carter years. After going through the ugliness of the Vietnam conflict, having an irresponsible “free-love” outburst in the late 60’s, and radical groups like Weather Underground bombings the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, Americans grew tired of the cultural decay.

Our country yearned for a newly cohesive nation built on principles that were time-tested and proven true through facing the fires of hate-filled evil. America wanted to reconnect with God again. If one thing is understood by most who live a life based on faith, they know it is far better to live with God on your side than to live in defiance of His love. In the last days of the Cold War and with the mounting concerns over Mutually Assured Destruction and the Strategic Defense Initiative, Americans realized that they had begun to travel away from God again and could potentially suffer the wrath.

That feeling of concern changed as President Reagan ushered in a respect for America’s Heritage and a fondness for our Founders that was heartily welcomed by most of America. He had already shown his affinity for American history, going back to his speech “We Will Be A City Upon A Hill” 9 years earlier. So it was going to be no surprise that a man who delights in the idea of Divine Providence having guided America’s birth would gladly file Proclamation 5018 into the Federal Register on February 3,1983.

Now, it is my intention to present Proclamation 5018 here but I am feeling compelled to ask you whether you are beginning to see some similarities between the time of the early 80’s and today? We are living in a post Iraqi-war era although we are still consumed in undeclared wars through at least 4 other locations(Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, and now Somalia) as well as our recurring war in Afghanistan. We are dealing with the effects of irresponsible and promiscuous behavior today as we are undertaking the fight over abortion funding. Perhaps the most interesting connection to the period of the 70’s can be found in the fact that Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorhn are now IN the White House not bombing it(ok, so they sneak in through the back door). We have become the home of mobilized radicals such as CPUSA and various socialist groups, ACORN, SEIU and various unions, and of course the eco-terrorists that are being stoked by former STORM leader, Van Jones.

Is this history repeating itself or what? The biggest difference today is just how openly Marxist our current president, Jimmy Carter 2… uh, Barack Obama is. I sincerely hope that we see a new dawning of spiritual growth in America tomorrow. A return to our Christian roots as a newly founded nation would certainly be a step in the right direction. But I have gone off on a tangent long enough. Let’s proceed with Proclamation 5018…

Proclamations, February 3, 1983

Proclamation 5018 —
Year of the Bible, 1983

February 3, 1983

By the President of the United States

of America

A Proclamation

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 timeless message.

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.

Ronald Reagan

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:10 a.m., February 3, 1983]

I hope that you have enjoyed reading a proclamation that would seemingly be unheard of in today’s secular-driven culture. Maybe it will inspire more than a few Americans to once again reclaim our America… the one that understands that God’s guiding hand is of far greater importance in life than the depravity that comes with the denial of His role.

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2 Responses to Proclamation 5018 | Maybe we can celebrate another “Year of the Bible” again… someday

  1. Richard Ward Jr. says:

    Ronald Reagan and the King James Bible

    The following transcript is one of Ronald Reagan’s famous radio addresses. In this address (which aired September 6, 1977), Ronald Reagan, the great orator, eloquently gives his thoughts on the “Good News Bible” (also called the Good News for Modern Man and Today’s English Version) in comparison to the Authorized Version or the King James Bible. emphasis added

    What would you say if someone decided Shakespeare’s plays, Charles Dicken’s novels, or the music of Beethoven could be rewritten & improved?

    I’ll be right back. . .

    Writing in the journal “The Alternative”, Richard Hanser, author of The Law & the Prophets and Jesus: What Manner of Man Is This?, has called attention to something that is more than a little mind boggling. It is my understanding that the Bible (both the Old & New Testaments) has been the best selling book in the entire history of printing.

    Now another attempt has been made to improve it. I say another because there have been several fairly recent efforts to quote “make the Bible more readable & understandable” unquote. But as Mr. Hanser so eloquently says, “For more than 3 1/2 centuries, its language and its images, have penetrated more deeply into the general culture of the English speaking world, and been more dearly treasured, than anything else ever put on paper.” He then quotes the irreverent H. L. Mencken, who spoke of it as purely a literary work and said it was, “probably the most beautiful piece of writing in any language.”

    They were, of course, speaking of The Authorized Version, the one that came into being when the England of King James was scoured for translators & scholars. It was a time when the English language had reached it’s peak of richness & beauty.

    Now we are to have The Good News Bible which will be in, “the natural English of everyday adult conversation.” I’m sure the scholars and clergymen supervised by the American Bible Society were sincerely imbued with the thought that they were taking religion to the people with their Good News Bible, but I can’t help feeling we should instead be taking the people to religion and lifting them with the beauty of language that has outlived the centuries.

    Mr. Hanser has quoted from both the St. James Version & the Good News Bible some well known passages for us to compare. A few thousand years ago Job said “How forcible are right words!” [Job 6:25] The new translators have him saying “Honest words are convincing.” That’s only for openers. There is the passage [Eccl. 1:18], “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow”. Is it really an improvement to say instead, “The wiser you are, the more worries you have; the more you know the more it hurts.”

    In the New Testament, in Mathew, we read “The voice of the one crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way.” [Matthew 3:3] The Good News version translates that, “Someone is shouting in the desert. Get the road ready.” It sounds like a straw boss announcing lunch hour is over.

    The hauntingly beautiful 23rd Psalm is the same in both versions, for a few words, “The Lord is my shepherd” but instead of continuing “I shall not want” we are supposed to say “I have everything I need.”

    The Christmas story has undergone some modernizing but one can hardly call it improved. The wondrous words “Fear not: for; behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy” has become, “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you.”

    The sponsors of the Good News version boast that their Bible is as readable as the daily paper – and so it is. But do readers of the daily news find themselves moved to wonder, “at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth”? Mr. Hanser suggests that sadly the “tinkering & general horsing around with the sacred texts will no doubt continue” as pious drudges try to get it right. “It will not dawn on them that it has already been gotten right.”

    This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

    — aired September 6, 1977

    • Thanks for visiting Richard. I may take this and publish it as a post as well.

      To my readers, Richard Ward is the man who inspired me to write this post about Proclamation 5018. Richard has been an amazing source of INCREDIBLE information and I intend to turn out some cutting pieces in the future using his research. It is also my hope to get Richard to become a once in a blue Alaskan moon contributor to Questioning…

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