Tennessee Governor, Lt. Governor: Designating Bible State Book ‘Belittles’ Holy Scriptures

Bible IV pdNASHVILLE — A proposed Tennessee bill to make the Bible the state book is generating mixed opinions from civil leaders, including the governor and lieutenant governor, who opine that the designation would “belittle” the value of the Holy Scriptures.

As previously reported, Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) introduced HB 615 earlier this year to amend the Tennessee Code to make the acknowledgment.

“The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book,” it reads.

The bill was soon amended to include language outlining the Bible’s “historical and cultural significance in the state of Tennessee.”

“[T]he Tennessee State Library and Archives Bible collection contains Bibles with records dated between the late 18th century and the early 20th century, including those of many prominent Tennessee families,” it reads in part. “[P]rinting the Bible is a multi-million dollar industry for the state with many top Bible publishers headquartered in Nashville, including Thomas Nelson, Gideons International, and United Methodist Publishing House.”

Tennessee has a number of adopted state symbols that have been approved by the state legislature, as the tomato was designated the state fruit by the General Assembly in 2003, the Eastern boxing turtle was designated the state reptile in 1995, and the square dance was agreed upon as being the state dance in 1980. Tennessee also has several state songs, such as the “Tennessee Waltz” and “Rocky Top,” the latter of which sings of a girl who was “half bear, other half cat; wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop.”

Sexton writes in his amendment that designating the Bible as the state book is no more wrong than selecting the passion flower for the state wildflower. He notes that the flower’s name is derived from “early Christian missionaries to South America, who saw in the various parts of the curiously constructed flower symbols of the crucifixion—the three crosses, the crown of thorns, nails and chord.”

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But some state that making the Bible the state book, thus placing it on the same level as the state reptile, the state dance or the state song, devalues and disrespects the Holy Scriptures.

“There’s nothing more important to me than my faith. I had time with the Bible this morning,” Gov. Bill Haslam, an elder at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, told reporters earlier this month. “But I don’t think it should be relegated to … like the salamander as the official lizard or whatever we call the different things we have official in our state.”

“Whenever the Church has become part of the official government, it hasn’t worked out well for the Church,” he added. “We look around the world, and where the Church is strong and where it’s not, and historically where it’s gotten to be a close part of the government, it hasn’t ended well for the Church.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey agrees.

“I mean, the Bible is my official book; it is,” he told the Tennessean. “It shouldn’t be put in the Blue Book with ‘Rocky Top,’ salamanders and tulip poplars. I’m sorry; it just shouldn’t.”

“I’ll guarantee you one thing: When it comes to the floor, I’m voting against it,” Ramsey, who also serves as speaker of the Senate, continued. “I think that belittles the most holy book that’s ever been written, in my opinion.”

But others have expressed their support for the measure.

“The Bible is something to everyone. And each time you read it, it might mean something to you. Everyone has the right to agree or disagree,” said Steve Southerland (R-Morristown). “We’re not saying you have to take it and read it. It’s just giving recognition to it.”

“There is no book that has played the role in the history of Tennessee equal to that of the Bible,” David Fowler, a former Senator who now serves as president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, told reporters. “This book has had more practical use, more historical use, and more economic impact in our state than any other book.”

The bill, which has nearly 70 co-sponsors, has been approved in both House and Senate committees, and will advance today for a vote in the full House.


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  • Covered California

    Lol Bible and salamanders. What did I just read??

  • Bolvon72

    Ha, like the bible needs any outside help in belittling.

    • GibbyD

      does your commander know you’re on sites like this saying the things you do ?

      • Bolvon72

        You do know that Bolvon is not my real name, don’t you?

  • The Skeptical Chymist

    Actually, it belittles the US Constitution to have a religious book selected as the “state book”. The government should not be playing favorites in issues of religion, or the lack thereof. That’s what the establishment clause is all about.

  • uzza

    the Eastern boxing turtle was designated the state reptile
    I assume these fight as lightweights . . .

  • UmustBKiddinMe

    “The bill was soon amended to include language outlining the Bible’s “historical and cultural significance in the state of Tennessee.””

    Given that Tennessee ranks in the top 10 in divorce and child births to unmarried women, perhaps the Bible has not been as influential on the state as suggested.

    • weasel1886

      It also ranks at the top in murder rate

  • weasel1886

    Just a cheap political ploy. They have no intention of following it. If you don’t support it it will mean you hate God in the next election

  • Carol Cantell Moorby

    Everyone needs to do their homework. http://www.wallbuilders.com and watchmanonthewall tells the truth about AMERICA and her origins and roots. God , JESUS and the bible have always been a part of Americas history. How many know that the first mega church was held weekly in the capital with the marine corps band playing praise and worship? That James Garfield was a preacher! That there are four CHRISTIAN paintings now in our capital. ( one of Pocohontas baptism) ? That 27 of the signers of the constitution, Bill of rights , and the Declaration of Independence Held bible degrees? Most former presidents quoted and believed in the bible .” Blessed is the nation who trusts in the Lord, ” and ” When the righteous rule the people are happy” AND the government is on the shoulders of JESUS now and forever.” Check it out all unbelievers. In the beginning the government came from God. There are so many liberal secular humanistic atheists who are do haters with anti-CHRIST spirits. Nowadays that it is truly the end times. Most prophesy is already fulfilled….Its just a matter of time until Gods wrath is poured out as in Revelation, but it is not time just yet! II Corinthians 5:19 tells us that God has made peace with man 2.000 years ago when he placed all judgment on JESUS to heal all mankind and nations. JESUS was the mediator and paid the full price. he humbled us, and healed our land through the cross. Luke 2:14, I Timorhy 2:5, Hebrews 10:12 are other scriptures which prove that God is not angry anymore and took ALL judgment for us at that time. Don’t pray II Chronicles anymore because that is an Old Testament prayer for the people of that time before JESUS humbled us all. We don’t have to keep repenting because all our sins past, present and future are totally forgiven.

    • weasel1886

      The USA is a Christian nation. That is why we were one of the last nations to outlaw slavery and practiced genocide on our natives

      • Finrod Felagund

        You are a liar and an idiot, leftist troll.

        • weasel1886

          Then prove me wrong instead of using stupid insults. Oh you can’t