Last week a vote of 19-8 in the Republican controlled Tennessee Senate, approved a Bill to make the Bible Tennessee’s official state book. Bill sponsor Senator Steve Southerland took the floor moments before the vote, reiterating his position – “honoring the Bible’s historic and cultural contributions to the state” as only Tennesseans can, followed by ( I kid you not ) – a Jewish friend of his agreed the Bible was a historical text.
Urgency to declare an official State book strikes me as curious – since when do states have official books? In 2003 Massachusetts “designated” Make Way For The Ducklings as the official children’s book. In 1990 Minnesota proposed Little House On The Prairie as official book, but it never became law. So why in 2016 is Tennessee compelled to disregard the First Amendment, which stipulates – “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”?
This isn’t the bill’s first kick at the can – in 2015 legislative action was delayed when state Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote an opinion pointing out the obvious constitutional short comings (linked below).
Unfazed by technicalities, Southerland focused attention on a 2005 Supreme Court decision allowing the Ten Commandments to hang on walls of the capital building in Austin, Texas. Never mind another decision declaring those same commandments in Kentucky courthouses a violation of the Establishment clause.
Now we wait for Republican Governor Bill Haslim – to sign, or not to sign is anyone’s guess. Tennessee boasts a whopping 81% who identify as Christian, half of them proud evangelicals. The way I see it, America has two choices – stick your heads in the sand, or call bat shit on uppity religious nincompoops.