BATON ROUGE, La. — A bill that would make the Bible the state book of Louisiana was approved by a House committee on Thursday, sending the measure on to the full House of Representatives.
As previously reported, Representative Thomas Carmody (R-Shreveport) recently filed HB 503 at the request of Shreveport resident Randy Dill. Dill told local television station KTBS that he has had the desire to make the Bible the state book since 1988, but could not find a lawmaker to help make it happen—until now.
“The Bible was their main inspiration along with our forefathers—Washington and all of them,” he stated. “They looked to it for their inspiration for our country. They called upon God to help us.”
Carmody’s original bill sought to make a specific copy of the Bible in state possession the official state book.
“The official state book shall be the Holy Bible, published by Johannes Prevel, (Prevel, Jean, active 1510-1528, printer, & Petit, Jean, fl. 1492-1530.), which is the oldest edition of the Holy Bible in the Louisiana State Museum system,” HB 502 outlines. “The use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.”
However, according to the Greater New Orleans Times-Picayune, Carmody altered the language of the proposal before it was considered in committee, changing out the Prevel copy of the Bible to the King James translation of the Scriptures. But some lawmakers stated that the alteration was still too narrow, as it would leave out the Catholics in the state.
Others rejected the bill altogether, fearing a lawsuit over the separation of church and state.
“I am so bothered by this bill that I just called my pastor,” stated Representative Wesley Bishop (D-New Orleans). “My pastor just said that he thinks we are going to have a legal problem.”
But Carmody insisted that the proposal does not promote any specific religion.
“It’s not to the exclusion of anyone else’s sacred literature,” he stated during the hearing on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. “This is not about establishing an official religion of the state of Louisiana.”
The bill ultimately cleared the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs by a 8-5 vote. It will now move on to the full House for a vote.
As previously reported, the mayor of Flower Mound, Texas announced earlier this year that he had designated 2014 as the “Year of the Bible.” Mayor Tom Hayden announced at a city council meeting in January that he wants to encourage residents to read the entire Bible through in a year.
“There’s so much benevolence on helping your fellow person,” he told local television station KDFW. “And the morality that helped build our country is based on the values that are found in the Bible. And as we look at problems, maybe we’re getting away from those values. And in my little small way, I want to encourage people to get back into those values.”
In 2012, lawmakers in Pennsylvania unanimously passed a resolution that likewise declared a “Year of the Bible.” The resolution stated that not only has the Bible been an important part of America’s history, but that in difficult times such as the present, there is a “national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”