The Official Bible
Well, according to The Tennessean “Tennessee is poised to make history as the first state in the nation to recognize the Holy Bible as its official book.” This has caused a number of people, not the least their own Attorney General, to say that this move is in violation of both the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions. It certainly has prompted a great deal of vitriolic online attacking and defending.
Not that long ago Louisiana took a run at making the Bible their official state book but got bogged down in a debate on which translation of the Bible would be official. Following the online discussion between Catholics, KJV-only churches, and an assortment of other parties was pretty funny and the whole thing was probably an exercise showing that it may be a good idea not to mix church and state. To their credit, the Louisiana leaders seem to have satisfied themselves that just trying made their “we are for God and country” point and let the matter drop.
Not so Tennessee. They seem determined to go through with the designation. In making this move the Bible, whichever version they mean, takes its place as an official Tennessee state symbol alongside the state tree, two different state flowers, the state fruit (a tomato, proving that,yes, a tomato is a fruit), two state birds, two state fish, a state wild animal, a state reptile, a state amphibian, four different state insects, and a state fossil among others. Just recently the Barrett M82/M107 assault rifle was also named the official state rifle. I don’t think there is official state hand gun yet; at least I couldn’t find one.
I’m pretty sure that there will be a legal challenge to this law and it will probably be successful, particularly since the Attorney General has declared that he isn’t defending it. In general I am sort of tolerant on the issue of meaningless symbolic legislative acts. Somehow however I don’t find myself impressed by placing the Bible alongside the Tennessee Cave Salamander in such a list.
I sincerely hope that this legislation goes quietly away someday soon but my skeptical nature has me dreading that a battle defending “sincerely held Christian beliefs” is just around the corner.