Rain fell on the just and on the unjust Thursday morning at the start of the Iowa Prayer Network’s marathon reading of the Christian Bible at the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel.
The cover-to-cover public reading will take about 80 hours, according to Scott Brunscheen, a Dallas County resident organizing the event for the Iowa Prayer Network. Brunscheen said more than half of Iowa’s 99 counties are taking part in the organized readings, a result of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s April 26 signing of the Iowa 99-County Bible Reading Marathon Proclamation.
The governor’s non-binding proclamation encouraged “all Iowans” to participate in the statewide religious event and went on to “encourage individuals and families in Iowa to read through the bible on a daily basis each year until the Lord comes.”
The Dallas County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan June 14 by a coalition of religious groups to stage the marathon reading on the south lawn of the Dallas County Courthouse.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers called the governor’s proclamation unconstitutional and said the his actions promote one religion over others and over nonreligion.
“Our plans are to read the Bible on a continuous basis,” Brunscheen said, “and it takes approximately 80 hours to complete its reading.” He said the reading would end “with a concluding gathering of readers to finish the event” Sunday, July 3 at about 4 p.m.
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