Tennessee Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Make Bible State Book

RomansNASHVILLE — A lawmaker in Tennessee has proposed a bill to make the Bible the state book.

Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) recently introduced HB 615 to amend the Tennessee Code to make the acknowledgment.

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

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.”

State Rep. James VanHuss (R-Jonesborogh) has also submitted a resolution to add text to the state Constitution that would acknowledge that the rights of Tennessee citizens come from God.

“We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior” House Joint Resolution 71 reads.

But some are taking issue with the proposals, and 81 percent of those who have participated in an online poll by the Tennessean, one of the newspaper outlets in the Bible Belt state, oppose making the Bible the state book.

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“Doesn’t state Rep. James VanHuss have anything better to do, like legislation that might actually help people’s lives? Maybe name a state bird or something?” wrote Fox News commentator Alan Colmes.

Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State also wrote a blog post about the matter, stating that the holy text is a bad choice, and that secular material is preferable. He noted that similar bills have been proposed in Mississippi and Louisiana.

“[G]oing with the Bible slights the many authors who are either from these states or who have written about them in significant ways (or both),”Boston wrote. “We’re not sure who wrote the Bible—it was likely many different authors—but we can say with confidence that none of them lived in the South.”

“I doubt the Bible played a major role in how any of them became a part of the United States,” he said.

“Allowing the government to single out a sectarian tome for special consideration sends a message to those who don’t venerate the Bible: You’re a second-class citizen,” Boston asserted. “Plus, proposals like this are often just a way for the Christian majority to obnoxiously remind everyone who’s in charge.”

As previously reported, three lawmakers in Mississippi likewise proposed to make the Bible the state book last month.

“Me and my constituents, we were talking about it and one of them made a comment that people ought to start reading the Bible,” Rep. Michael Evans (D-Preston) told AL.com.

“The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people,” Rep. Tom Miles (D-Forest) added to the Associated Press. “They could read in there about love and compassion.”

In 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan declared the year the national “Year of the Bible.”

“Many of our greatest national leaders—among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson—have recognized the influence of the Bible on our country’s development,” he stated. “The plainspoken Andrew Jackson referred to the Bible as no less than ‘the rock on which our Republic rests.’”

“Today our beloved America and, indeed, the world, is facing a decade of enormous challenge,” Reagan continued. “There could be no more fitting moment than now to reflect with gratitude, humility, and urgency upon the wisdom revealed to us in the writing that Abraham Lincoln called ‘the best gift God has ever given to man . . . But for [without] it we could not know right from wrong.”’

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  • thoughtsfromflorida

    As completely surprised as I am to say this: I agree with the FOX News commentator.

  • Tim Raynor

    Do these elected officials really not have anything better to do? If passed, it will most likely wind up in the Supreme Court for battle, the states will lose because it violates the Establishment Clause and will ultimately cost tax payers even more in court loses. So, yes, by all means, find something to legislate that actually does help people’s lives instead of this nonsense.

  • Having lived in Nashville, Tennessee, I know it to be one of the most “Christian Friendly” places on earth. The monthly newsletter for my apartment community quoted Bible verses, and nobody complained. Church life is interwoven into public life more-so than any other place I have lived. It’s almost a societal taboo to not attend a church if you live in Nashville.

    That being said… I am shocked to read that 81% of the people polled by The Tennessean Newspaper were opposed to naming the Bible as the “State Book”. I wonder how biased that poll was… where it was taken… what the target demographic was. Those results: 81% opposed, do not seem possible in a state where probably close to 80% of the population claim “Christianity” as their religious affiliation.

    • BravesFan

      The Tennessean is apparently a liberal rag. I was shocked by what I read there when Amendment 1 was being debated.

  • dark477

    There’s no way that this will hold up if challenged.

  • Spoob

    Why do people continually try to blur the lines between church and state, and in this case, why so blatantly?

    • The Last Trump

      Not a fan of the Bible, “Christian”?
      Ahhh yes, I believe we have already well established that, haven’t we.
      Always great to see you “defending” the Word, you Charlatan, you!
      (Still not fooling anybody Spoobs!;)

      • Spoob

        Still spokesman for your nonexistent fan base, Trumpy?
        The Bible is misunderstood and abused by fundamentalists like you, Trumps. All anyone needs to do to know that is read your hate posts. You are so much fun!

  • Davy Crockett

    LOVE IT!!! Bring it in!

  • KG

    I wasn’t asked. My vote, for what it’s worth; yes, make the Bible the state book.
    And FYI, God wrote every word in the Bible through several men over many years.
    The United States of America was founded on the principles of the Bible.
    WE are, and always will be a Christian nation. Nothing will change that,
    not even the present administrative team who are inhabiting OUR White House.
    God bless America!

    • dark477

      you can’t make any religious text a state book it violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution

    • lynn

      I agree. Make the Bible the state book.

  • The Last Trump

    Don’t be so scared Atheists! It’s just a simple book, remember?
    Or is it…. 🙂

    • Spoob

      You don’t have to be an atheist to oppose this, Trumpy, you just have to have a brain in your head. When religious bigots who think the Bible is straightforward with no INTERPRETATION necessary and start to try to rule other people’s lives, I think we will have huge problems.

    • dark477

      fear has nothing to do with it. it’s just unconstitutional.

    • Paul Hiett

      I’d love to see your reaction if someone tried to make the Koran the state book. I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t be so accepting…

  • christina

    About time someone recognize we need God in control of our state and our country if we put God first as a nation maybe He will forgive us of our weakness