By the President of the United States of America
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 loked 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 worth while 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 men.
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 Indpendence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth.