Tennessee Senate kills Bible bill

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Tennessee Senator and House Majority Leader Mark Norris led efforts to delay a bill to make the Bible the official state book until next year. | Facebook: Senator Mark Norris

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- Tennessee lawmakers pushing to make the Bible the official state book will not see the measure come to fruition this year.

Calling the bill the devil's work, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, successfully killed the bill approved by the House with a 55 to 38 vote the day before.

"All I know is that I hear Satan snickering," The Tennesseean reported Norris saying April 15. "He loves this kind of mischief. You just dumb the good book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol, and you're on your way to where he wants you."

Norris was among several Republican leaders who opposed the bill and is credited with leading efforts to send the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee which will address Attorney General Herbert Slatery's opinion that the bill violated both the state and federal constitutions. However, the committee has been closed for this legislative session, effectively putting the matter on hold until next year.

"This isn't the time or place now in the full Senate floor to delve into that. We really need to look into it in committee,"Norris said before the vote push the measure until next year.

"It's an unnecessary distraction, and for some personnel here it's a diversion from work that has to get done," he added.

Others included Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville,

Ramsey released a written statement of his opposition of the measure calling it "fiscally irresponsible."

"I am a Christian, but I am also a constitutionalist and a conservative. It would be fiscally irresponsible to put the state in a position to have to spend tax dollars defending a largely symbolic piece of legislation," Ramsey wrote.

The bill's supporters are expected to pick up the campaign when the Senate Judiciary Committee meets again during the next year. The bill's sponsors tried to get the measure reviewed next week, but the chairman of the committee, Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and the majority of the Senate stated there was not enough time.

Supporters of the bill claim the motive to declare the Bible a state symbol is driven by its historical and economic significance in Tennessee.