LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Republican representative in Arkansas has introduced a bill to make the Bible the state book.
Rep. Dwight Tosh, R-Jonesboro, presented H.R. 1047 on Monday, and the Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs Committee advanced the resolution on Wednesday.
“Whereas the Bible is considered by many to be a book of truth, and whereas the system of law contained within the Bible forms the basis upon which our modern civilization is structured,” it reads in part, “Now therefore be it resolved … that the House of Representatives supports the naming of the Bible, published in any recognized version, as the official book of the State of Arkansas.”
Arkansas has a number of state symbols, including the mockingbird as the state bird, the apple blossom as the state flower, and the white-tailed deer as the state mammal, but currently no state book.
Public reaction to the proposal, which now heads to the full House, is mixed.
“It would be awesome! A true book to live by. Words that are living and creating life and healing, and most of all salvation,” one commenter wrote.
“Yes. It should be taught in school. When I was in grade school we had two missionary ladies that came once a month and taught from the Bible. If you had your Bible verse memorized, [you] got a small Gideon Bible. No kids caused trouble and were taught respect,” another said.
“Why would we need to have the Bible as a state book? Why stir up an unnecessary controversy?” a third asked. “Christians and Jews will always cherish the Bible. Some will always hate the mention of it. Arkansas doesn’t need a state book.”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with government; keep it out! Keep the church and state separate, or you’re unAmerican,” another wrote.
Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, also introduced a bill this week that would allow the teaching of biblical creation in public schools alongside of evolution.
“The purpose of this act is to amend the Arkansas Code to allow public school teachers to teach creationism and intelligent design as theories alongside the teaching of the origins of the earth and the theory of evolution,” it reads.
H.B. 2050 has yet to be assigned to a committee.
As previously reported, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared a 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.”’