Once again, a Tennessee lawmaker is trying to make the Bible the official state book.
It’s not the first time he’s done this. He’s failed in every past attempt. But State Rep. Jerry Sexton keeps going for it because he doesn’t give a damn about actually helping his constituents and prefers to waste everyone’s time instead.
Let’s rewind a bit: In 2015, Sexton filed a bill to make the Holy Bible the official state book.
It didn’t work. While the bill passed in the House, the Senate did nothing with it, in part because even Attorney General Herbert Slatery said it was unconstitutional.
In 2016, Sexton’s GOP colleague State Sen. Steve Southerland tried again… and failed. Then-Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, vetoed that effort, and the House failed to override him, with some supporters from both parties changing their vote later on.
Last year, Sexton gave it another shot. The substantive part of House Bill 2778 was just a sentence long: “The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book.” The companion bill, SB 2696 (filed by State Sen. Mark Pody along with six co-sponsors), did the same thing. That bill stalled, like everything else, because of COVID. (Pody recently made news for filing a bill that would allow rapists to have veto power if their impregnated victims want an abortion.)
Now Sexton is at it again.
WHEREAS, families recorded their own vital records in family Bibles that were passed down through the generations; and
WHEREAS, even the Los Angeles Times has acknowledged the economic impact of the Bible in Tennessee; and
WHEREAS, the State’s agricultural insect is the honeybee, which according to the Blue Book, “plays a vital economic role in Tennessee,” as does the printing and distribution of the Holy Bible in Tennessee; and
None of that should matter. There’s no reason one religion’s holy book should be designated by the state government as special. Even among Christians, there are different versions of the Bible. So even suggesting there’s one generic “Holy Bible” suggests a misunderstanding of the faith.
If it’s the economy that matters, go with a math textbook. Or maybe choose a work of classic literature! There are so many authors with connections to the state — Alex Haley, Robert Penn Warren, Tennessee Williams — yet their works weren’t even considered.
This bill should fail. Tennessee doesn’t need a stronger connection to Christianity. It needs far less of it.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)