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34th annual US Capitol Bible Reading Marathon kicks off this weekend: 'Draw attention back to the Bible'

Thelma Dephas of Shiloh Baptist Church in Landover, Maryland, seen taking part in the 20th annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, a 90-hour front to back oral reading of the bible on May 6, 2009, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Thelma Dephas of Shiloh Baptist Church in Landover, Maryland, seen taking part in the 20th annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, a 90-hour front to back oral reading of the bible on May 6, 2009, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. | TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images

The 34th annual National Capitol Bible Reading Marathon will kick off on Saturday, marking the first time the event has taken place at the U.S. Capitol complex since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spearheaded by the Indiana-based ministry group Seedline International, the National Capitol Bible Reading Marathon will take place on the West Terrace of the Capitol starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time Saturday (April 22) through 10 a.m. April 26. A rotating group of volunteers will take turns reading every word of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, in 15-minute slots. 

Those hoping to participate can sign up for a time slot online. The National Capitol Bible Reading Marathon’s website outlines the requirements for those hoping to read from Scripture as part of the event, specifically that a volunteer reader “must be a born again Christian, must provide personal transportation” and “must arrive 5 minutes before [their] scheduled reading time.”

While most of the readings will be done by “scheduled volunteer readers,” those “walking by who want to read” will have the opportunity to participate as well. About 98% of the reading slots will be filled in advance. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, Keith Davidson, founder and director of Seedline International, said he hopes the event will “draw attention back to the Bible” and remind Americans that “our founding fathers and founding principles of our country were for expressing our First Amendment rights and the freedom of speech.” He expressed gratitude that the event was taking place at the Capitol this year, as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic lockdowns had forced the event to move the National Capitol Bible Reading Marathon to the nearby Faith and Liberty Headquarters for the past three years. 

“For us, it’s a privilege to be back outside facing west, viewing the Washington Monument in the background, and just being out on the Capitol steps and on Capitol grounds is just … a good thing; we’re excited about that,” he added.

Davidson told CP that the event “doesn’t stop” in inclement weather unless there is “danger” posed by severe weather. In such cases, participants “move inside the building and continue to read.”

While the Bible Reading Marathon will be streamed on Seedline International’s YouTube channel, there will not be an option for people to read from Scripture virtually as there was last year.

Members of Congress who want to participate in the event might have the opportunity to read from the Capitol, as lawmakers will be in session during part of this year’s event, he told CP.  

Davidson said several members of Congress had made an “interested commitment” to reading Scripture as part of the annual event that will also be attended by Christian schools and church groups.  

Although Davidson is leading the event, he is depending on a team of “about 35” volunteers to help pull it off. He remarked that “there will be someone there from Seedline around the clock,” meaning that the volunteers will take turns so as not to force one person to remain there for nearly four straight days.

Davidson estimated that “there will be approximately 50” people on Capitol grounds at the opening event, adding, “I would anticipate around 300 or so that would attend at some point but not all at the same time.” 

In addition to the National Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, Davidson also helps to organize Bible Reading Marathons at state Capitols nationwide. When asked about his progress in setting up Bible Reading Marathons at state Capitols, Davidson said, “It’s going well.”

“We’ve been in Tennessee, Indiana [and] Pennsylvania. We're also going to West Virginia, then Louisiana, North Carolina [and] South Carolina is coming on board, and we’ve got some interest in Colorado and possibly Texas,” he noted. “Because of previous riots and so forth, it’s become a little bit difficult to get on Capitol grounds, but we seem to be making good progress on that.” 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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