PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- The National Bible Association recently named Philadelphia, Pa., as the 2009 National Bible City.
On Monday, Christians, Jews and city leaders declared Bible scriptures publicly throughout the city.
It may not be politically correct to read the Bible just outside City Hall, but organizers say there has never been a better time or a better place for Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love and the birthplace of freedom, to read scripture aloud.
"Philadelphia is where it all started. Where the nation started. (Where) the Declaration of Independence was declared. Where the Constitution was written," former Mayor Wilson Goode, Sr., said.
"What we know is that the men who did all of this, declared and formed this nation, were Bible readers," he said. "They read the Bible and often quoted from the Bible. Directly in back of me is a statue of George Washington, our first president he was a Bible reader."
"The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, whom, shall I be afraid?" Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter read aloud from Psalm 27.
Nutter said that as a government leader he draws his strength from scripture.
"With this great recession, of course, we've had some challenges here in our city and always someone has something to say," Nutter said. "And you need strength and I get that strength from reading my Bible. Thinking about what the Lord was trying to communicate to so many of us - especially to those of us in leadership positions."
A group of tourists from Georgia were pleasantly surprised to hear God's word being proclaimed in front of City Hall.
"We were just walking around and we heard God's word and we stopped!!," one tourist exclaimed.
If you attended Philadelphia's Christ Church back in the late 1700s - you would have worshipped alongside President George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross and 15 signers of the Declaration of Indedpendence.
Organizers say it's the city's unique history that makes it a perfect location to proclaim God's word.
"Why Philadelphia? Because this city is named from the Bible," Westminster Theological Seminary President Peter Lillback explained.
"Revelation 3:7 gives us our name. William Penn named Philadelphia from the city of Philadelphia in Asia Minor," he continued. "I might add that the first Bible that was ever printed in the English language in the New World was printed on Market Street, where we are standing."
Richard Glickstein, president of the National Bible Association, says National Bible Week has been proclaimed by every president since 1941 - and their goal has not changed - to encourage people to read the Bible.
There's something extraordinary about the Bible, in that it has a unique capacity to speak to the human condition. It hasn't changed," Rabbi Jay Stein, Pres. Philadelphia Board of Rabbis, said.
"We're the same people we've always been," he continued. "And reading it out loud gives us the chance to (understand) what is the issue I'm facing that thousands of people before me have faced generations to come will face and how do we collectively use that energy to change the world."
Glickstein says the group hopes cities and towns throughout America will adopt the Monday before Thanksgiving each year to read the Bible in the public square. It is something they feel certain the nation's founding father's would be grateful for continuing.
*Originally published November 25, 2009.