Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill to Designate Bible as State Book

Bible Psalm Law Credit Wong Mei Teng-compressed
Photo Credit: Wong Mei Teng

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lawmakers in Tennessee have passed a bill that designates the Bible as the official state book, sending it to the desk of Gov. Bill Haslam, who has not yet indicated whether he will sign or veto the measure.

As previously reported, H.B. 615 had been introduced last year by Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, but after being approved by the House, it was shelved by the Senate, which sent the measure back to committee for further consideration after its constitutionality was questioned.

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

The effort was revived this year by sponsor Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown. Last week, S.B. 1108, the bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday 7-1, sending it on to the full Senate for a vote.

Following a half an hour of deliberations on Tuesday, the Senate voted 19-8 in favor of the proposal. Six Republicans voted against the measure, as did two Democrats.

“The very founding of our nation—the very form of government that we have today—was put forth by men of faith, based on their faith, based on what they read in Holy Scripture,” declared Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, on the Senate floor. “This book has done more to bring us to where we are today than any other book in the history of mankind.”

But the ACLU is now calling upon Gov. Haslam to veto the measure.

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“While the Bible is an important book to many state residents, Tennesseans come from a rich diversity of faiths,” Executive Director Hedy Weinberg said in a statement. “Privileging one religion over another not only tramples on the Constitution, it marginalizes the tens of thousands of Tennesseans who choose to practice other religions or not to practice religion at all.”

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.”

While it is not yet known if Gov. Haslam will sign or veto the measure, when the bill was first introduced last year, he expressed concern over the proposal, stating that it devalues the Bible.

“There’s nothing more important to me than my faith. I had time with the Bible this morning,” Haslam, an elder at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, stated last year. “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.”

Haslam has 10 days to take action on the bill.

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  • gizmo23

    Election year pandering, nothing more

  • robertzaccour

    It would be nice to see everyone reading and studying the Bible daily.

  • Barking Dawg

    Good for them.

  • Emmanuel

    Way to go.

    • gizmo23

      So why doesn’t the state follow the Bible

      • Emmanuel

        One Small step at a time

        • gizmo23

          They have only had over about 200 years

          • Emmanuel

            LOL, right!! Baby steps now is better than no steps for the last 200 years. Look at my California.

  • The Skeptical Chymist

    A deeply un-American action by the Tennessee legislature. I hope that the governor will veto it.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    The Holy Bible has been always USA’s only State Book. Those who oppose the Holy Bible have been always villains on earth with no exception. Americans got their dignity, importance of objective truth, sense of purpose and honor, fairness, and liberty exclusively from the Holy Bible. There is no other which taught mankind such things. Those who read the Holy Bible alone break free from slave owners and also free other slaves. Secularism only brought decadence and slavery to despicable sins and addictions. Americans need Jesus for salvation as all mankind do.

    • John N

      >’Those who oppose the Holy Bible are always villains on earth with no exception’
      So why don’t you just bring them to trial and punish them, like in biblical times? You know, the stoning kind of punishment that your god seems to prefer?

      >’Americans got their dignity, importance of objective truth, sense of purpose and honor, fairness, and liberty exclusively from the Holy Bible’
      Right, because the rest of the world is a big mess of indignifying, lying, purposeless and honorless, unfair and unfree bunch of villains.

      >’Secularism only brought decadence and slavery to despicable sins’
      So christians never fell for the sin of decadence and do never sin?

      >’Those who read the Holy Bible alone break free from slave owners and also free other slaves’
      Except for the thousands of years the bible was actually used to justify slavery, of course.

      >’Americans need Jesus for salvation as all mankind do.’
      The last few times your god purposedly brought massive salvation were not a big success for mankind. You better hope he does a more professional job next time.

      • lizk

        we are all sinners! But Jesus took our sins and punishment and mailed it to the cross. That is why we do not offer burnt offerings anymore. He paid the price. He was the lamb of God. We can now go straight to God for Jesus is our mediator. Jesus is our salvation there is no other way. We cannot work our way to heaven, we cannot buy our way to heaven for it is a free gift of God. It is Christ’s righteousness that we put on.

        • John N

          Yes, I do realise christiannity is all about human sacrifices. A disgusting practice. Killing someone or allowing someone to be killed as a relieve for your own mistakes? Not my idea of righteousness.

          If your Jesus ever existed, he did not die for me.