Two bills introduced by legislators in the Mississippi House this week would essentially enshrine Christian supremacy in the law, at least as far as the Constitution will allow.
The first is House Bill 281, sponsored by State Rep. William Tracy Arnold.
This bill would allow the Ten Commandments — along with the Beatitudes and the phrase “In God We Trust” — to be displayed on state property. Such monuments, since they would be deemed as having “historical” merit, could also not be removed from the Capitol grounds (other than for, say, maintenance issues).
The bill goes even further when it comes to Confederate statues, which have “historical significance.” If you vandalize those, you could end up paying a fine of up to $10,000 and spend up to 20 years in jail. (Because Mississippi.)
The second piece of legislation worth looking at is House Bill 130, sponsored by State Rep. Tom Miles (a Democrat).
This one would straight-up make the Holy Bible the official state book.
Mississippi isn’t the only state trying to do this. In 2014, Louisiana Rep. Thomas Carmody tried to do something similar when he wanted to make a very specific Bible — “the oldest copy owned by the state” – the official state book. But a month later, he pulled his own bill before it could go up for a vote because it “had become a distraction.”
Last year, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam vetoed a bill that would’ve made the Bible that state’s official book. He said at the time that the bill “trivializes the Bible.”
Alabama has an official State Bible. But it’s not like there’s much competition.
You would think Mississippi, with its rich literary history, would make the State Book something written by a native son. Maybe William Faulkner or Richard Wright. Nope. They’re going with the Christian Bible. (Take that, Jews.)
These bills aren’t necessary. The only reason the Christian monuments were removed (or faced a threat of removal) was because they violated federal law. And it’s just absurd for a religious book to be named any state’s “official” book. If another state did it with the Qur’an, you know exactly what the Fox News headlines would look like for the next month.
The only reason these bills are even being considered is because, in a state like Mississippi, you can never go wrong trying to elevate Christianity about every other belief system, even when you’re a government official.
Let’s hope these bills die without anyone taking them seriously.