The move to make the Bible Tennessee’s state book may be seen as the government promoting a specific religion.
If the Bible bill is approved by the Tennessee Senate committee, the Holy Bible will be placed alongside the Barrett M82 sniper rifle, which is the state's official rifle. Sharing the space will also be the other state symbols, like the state rocks, state insects, state amphibian, and so on. Last year, when the bill was presented before the committee, Ron Ramsey, the Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee and Speaker of the State Senate, had argued that the Holy Bible is far too sacred to be trivialized by being placed alongside the other state symbols. This year also, he is rooted in his stance to oppose the bill. However, he admits that there is a good chance the bill will get approved this year, no matter how he votes.
Mark Norris, the Tennessee State Senator representing District 32, said that making the Holy Bible as Tennessee's state book is fundamentally wrong. Personally, he thinks it is sacrilegious. Norris had opposed the bill last year as well. At that time, he commented that he could hear the snickering of Satan as he enjoys this kind of mischief. Disrespecting the Holy Bible by making it as a state symbol is following the path paved by Satan. While discussing the controversial bill with his colleagues, Norris said that people are worried that their vote will be misinterpreted. Norris also admits that there is a big probability that the bill will be passed this year.
— TANENBAUM (@TanenbaumCenter) April 1, 2016
Republican Senator Steve Southerland (1st district) is the sponsor of the bill. According to him, the intention behind the move to make Bible as the state book is not to endorse a religion officially, but to highlight the significance of the Bible in Tennessee. Republican Senator Kerry Roberts (25th district), offered support to the bill, stating that George Washington had used Bible for his swearing in.
Maybe they read the Constitution but didn't get to the amendments. https://t.co/uAU2ciYiGm
— Philip Bump (@pbump) April 1, 2016
Tennessee's American Civil Liberties Union has also come against the bill. They are of the opinion that the lawmakers are misusing their position to promote their religious beliefs. Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the Union said that the bill clearly violates both the Tennessee and US Constitutions, as the whole process amounts to the government promoting one religion over another. She further said that the government officials should not be dictating the practice of specific religions.
As of now the bill has been given approval by the legislative committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-1 in favor of the bill. However, Governor Bill Haslam has not yet decided whether to approve it or veto it.