Tennessee to vote on Bible as state book

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
A Tennessee Freshman Rep. Jerry Sexton is the primary sponsor of a bill proposing to make the Bible the official state book. | Jerry Sexton Facebook

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- Committees in Tennessee's House and Senate approved measures this week to designate the Bible as the state's official book.

While no legislators voted against HB 615, two lawmakers abstained. The law's primary sponsor is freshman Rep. Jerry Sexton, a Republican.

Whether the bill, which states "The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book," officially becomes law remains to be seen. In addition to overcoming criticism, the Tennessee Constitution states "no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship."

As might be expected, the ACLU has weighed in against the measure.

But so have conservatives.

A number of state Republicans oppose the bill as a matter of reverence for Scripture and have promised to vote against the measure when it reaches the full vote, according to the Tennessean. Among these are Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who said making the Bible a state symbol belittles its importance. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey reportedly agrees with Norris and told reporters he was "adamantly opposed" to the bill.

"The Bible is my official book, it is," Ramsey said, but added it should not be juxtaposed with other state symbols.

"It shouldn't be put in the Blue Book with 'Rocky Top,' salamanders and tulip poplars. I'm sorry; it just shouldn't," he said.

But David Fowler of the conservative Family Action Council of Tennessee reportedly disagreed and reportedly called the move a recognition of the Bible's historical value.

Earlier this year, Mississippi lawmakers tried to pass legislation designating the Bible as Mississippi's official book, but failed to do so. Louisiana also considered a similar measure last year, however the bill was withdrawn before going to vote.