JACKSON, Miss. (Christian Examiner) — Mississippi could see the Bible added to its list of official symbols in 2015 after lawmakers consider two separate bills proposing the Good Book be approved as one of a number of state emblems.
A proposal spearheaded by Representatives Tom Miles, D-Forest, and Michael Evans, D-Preston, already received promises of bipartisan support from more than 20 colleagues, the Associated Press reported.
Republican Rep. Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville, and pastor of the nondenominational church, The Vineyard, is filing the other bill.
While critics claim the state should look to native talent like William Faulkner or Richard Wright for a literary symbol, Miles states the move is completely symbolic and not intended to force religion or require reading of the book.
"The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people," Miles said. "They could read in there about love and compassion."
Miles also took to Twitter to announce the bill today.
"In Mississippi, we have a number of state symbols...but not a state book. My colleagues and I decided to change that this session," Miles tweeted.
Evans confirmed the motivation was rooted in a hope to encourage good will and told AL.com the idea to draft the bill was birthed from a discussion with community members about all the things going wrong in the world."
"Me and my constituents, we were talking about it and one of them made a comment that people ought to start reading the Bible," said Evans. "Someone suggested making the Bible the state book."
Mississippi official symbols already include a teddy bear as the state toy and milk as the state beverage.
According to the Huffington Post, the proposed legislation is unlikely to find much opposition because of the widely held religious roots within the state's house and senate. The publication reported that legislators regularly incorporate prayer into their work days and last year Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law into effect adding "In God We Trust" to the state seal.