By Elisabeth Parker | 16 April 2015
If at first you don’t “secede”, try, try again. That must be why Tennessee state House Republicans just voted to pass a bill declaring the Bible the “official state book.” Separation of church and state? They don’t need no stinkin’ separation of church and state.
But in this case, News Channel 5 reports even state GOP leaders think this Bible-as-state-book bill goes too far. Nonetheless, according to the New Civil Rights Movement, Rep. Jerry Sexton’s HB 615 passed by a whopping 55-38. The text on the retired pastor’s bill reads:
“The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.”
New Civil Rights Movement writer David Badash mentions that even Herb Slatery, the state’s attorney general, strongly advised against attempting to declare the Bible as the official state book.
“Designating The Holy Bible as the official state book of Tennessee would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the federal Constitution and Article I, § 3, of the Tennessee Constitution, which provides ‘that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.’”
Badash also understandably flips his lid when he sees the words “public welfare” hypocritically included in the bill’s language:
Tennessee lawmakers might want to actually turn their attention to the public welfare. The “Volunteer State,” as it’s nicknamed, ranks as the 45th worst state in the nation for health, with just five states worse. It is the sixth-worst state in the nation for bullying. It is the fourth-worst state for voter turnout. It ranks 41st in child homelessness. And number nine in food insecurity. I could go on, but clearly lawmakers in Tennessee aren’t troubled by any of these statistics.
Although Tennessee’s a shining star in the Bible Belt’s firmament, News Channel 5 mentions some serious opposition to this Bible-based bill.
But several opponents raised concerns about putting the Bible on par with other more innocuous state symbols like the official salamander, tree and beverage.
Also, as the News Channel 5 crew mentions, it’s highly unlikely that the Bible will become the Official State Book of Tennessee any time soon. The bill requires approval from the senate and a signature from Gov. Bill Haslam, who has said he opposes it.
Will the Bible become Tennessee’s official state book? Not any time soon.
Here’s the video with the report on the Bible bill passing from news Channel 5.
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