Tennessee Governor: “No” to Bible as Official State Book


Many around the nation have followed with excitement and enthusiasm a bill in the Tennessee legislature that would make the Bible the official state book. The Washington Times is reporting that, according to polling, 62 percent of all Tennesseans favor making the Holy Book the state book in order to recognize its significance from a historical, economic and cultural standpoint.

Despite this, Republican Governor Bill Haslam has vetoed the measure.

Here’s how the Times describes his decision:

In his veto message Thursday, Mr. Haslam cited Article I, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution which states “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”

He added that while “I strongly disagree with those who are trying to drive religion out of the public square,” that battle is “very different from the governmental establishment of religion.”

Proponents said the honor merely recognizes the Bible’s historic role in building the overwhelmingly Christian state, but Mr. Haslam said that was no better.

“My personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text. If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance,” he added in his veto message.

The Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that is often spearheading the assault on religious freedom in America, praised the Governor for his veto decision. But the bill’s two sponsors, Sen. Steve Southerland of Morristown and Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station, are undeterred, and plan to push for a veto override next week in the legislature. None of the Governor’s vetoes have been overridden thus far.

How do you think the founders of this nation—more than half of whom had seminary degrees—would view this debate?

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