May 4th, 2012
05:01 PM ET
By David Ruff, CNN
The Bible marathon began with a reading of Genesis 1:1 at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 27. For 23 years, a small nonprofit group called the International Bible Reading Association has one purpose: "To encourage reading the Bible, both publicly and privately," says the Washington organizer Michael Hall, senior pastor of People's Church in Washington.
Volunteers take turns reading through the text 24 hours a day for five days. The group relies on the security of the Capital Hill Police, who are stationed all around the Capitol. Hall says the readers have never had any problems or threats from onlookers or other groups.
Because of permit restrictions, the readers can't use heaters or any protective cover. When rain threatens, the group covers the bibles with plastic sheets and the volunteer readers wear rain jackets.
"It's a wonderful celebration of our First Amendment rights. We have people coming from all around the world and they're stunned that we can do this. We’re one of the few countries in the world who has a Bill of Rights," Hall says.
Hall says this is a nonpolitical event that draws people from all walks of life who have one thing in common. "We’re not a small group, Christians. We’re all around the world. We’re in every country."
Bible readers include children being home schooled, church groups, individuals and even legislators. With Congress out of session, the only lawmaker to participate was Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, who read on Tuesday morning. Hall says in years past, around 24 lawmakers usually read.
Some read the Bible in their native language, as was the case with readers from the Korean Baptist Church in Washington.
The Scriptures are read on a Bible-shaped podium. The organizers set up a table and display 100 Bibles in different languages. “What we’re doing is a great witness for this country and a great witness for God.”
The last verse of the Bible, Revelation 22:22 was read in a small ceremony at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, May 1 at 2 p.m.
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