Louisiana Wants KJV Bible the Official State Book

The Christian right never, ever tires of finding as many ways as possible to get their religious views officially endorsed by the government and here’s another perfect example. The Louisiana legislature wants to pass a law making the King James Version of the Bible the official state book. The FFRF is rightly condemning that action:

It’s hard to believe that in 2014 a bill to declare “the Holy Bible the official state book of Louisiana” would gain traction in the Louisiana legislature. Yesterday, a House committee voted 8-5 to approve House Bill 503, which does precisely that, and now heads to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shrevepoint, originally declared a specific 16th century copy of the bible in the Louisiana State Museum system as the “official state book.” Then Carmody changed the language to make the “generic” King James Version the “official state book.”

It’s an understatement to point out there are a lot of problems with this bill. First, the King James Version ain’t “generic” — it’s Protestant. There were riots in the streets, arsons of churches, deaths in Philadelphia in 1843, over precisely this kind of show of government preference for the King James Version over the Catholic version in public schools.

Ironically, aware that the bill endorses Protestantism over Catholicism, Rep. Stephen Oretego, D-Carencro, argued: “Let’s make this more inclusive of other Christian faiths, more than just the ones that use the King James Version.” This, of course, misses the point: Government preference of all “Christian faiths” is equally inappropriate and unconstitutional, being intrinsically exclusionary of all non-Christians and all non-believers. Same problem when Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-New Harvey, suggested amending the bill to declare “all books of faith” the official state books of Louisiana! (Imagine the consternation had the legislators actually voted to make the Koran an “official state book.”)

It’s hard to credit this degree of zealotry, insensitivity and ignorance among state legislators in a nation where surveys and polls show that as many as 30% of the U.S. population now identifies as nonreligious. The “Christian Nation” Big Lie, repeated over and over, apparently has done its damage. Legislators who took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution in all its glorious godlessness apparently have never bothered to examine it.

I suspect there’s almost no chance this won’t pass and be signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal because it’s an election year and one sure way to get the rubes to vote for you is to Stand Up for Jesus.

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  • Chiroptera

    The bill, introduced by Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shrevepoint, originally declared a specific 16th century copy of the bible in the Louisiana State Museum system as the “official state book.” Then Carmody changed the language to make the “generic” King James Version the “official state book.”

    Huh. Why the change?

    “Oops, my mistake. If we choose that specific book, then people will think that we want to honor an important historic artefact and miss the true point that we want to give the finger to people who aren’t conservative evangelical Protestants.”

  • Trebuchet

    Interestingly, I think Louisiana is one of the more heavily Catholic states in the country. Off to Google….

    …and back. Only 10th, according to Huffpo. Most of the more heavily Catholic states are in the Northeast, BTW.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/most-and-least-catholic-states-in-america_n_1662076.html

  • Trebuchet

    Me, #2: Other sites give differing numbers. SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET!

    Gov. Jindal is Catholic. Wonder if he’ll sign it.

  • doublereed

    oh come on, how transparently theocratic can you get?

  • doublereed

    What does Louisiana pay these people for? Creating court cases???

  • zenlike

    IANAL, but seeing how stupidly narrow the higher courts have interpreted standing in the past, I see real problems for future court cases against this law if signed.

    Maybe it seems like a strange measure, but judges, when denying a court case on the ground of standing, should stipulate who they think do have standing, to avoid these ‘no one really has any standing to challenge this law’ situations.

  • Synfandel

    Do bills not have to be vetted by lawyers before they are tabled* in the legislature?

    *’Tabled’ in the non-US sense of ‘put on the table for consideration’, not in the US sense of ‘taken off the table’. I don’t know what the equivalent American idiom is. Maybe someone could educate me.

  • zenlike

    Jindal catholic?

    You know what would be funny? If he signs this into law, and then gets excommunicated by the church.

    That would be a newsitem worthy of a ‘wingnut on wingnut crime’ entry.

  • busterggi

    And if you don’t agree to make their holy book the only government approved holy book you’re persecuting them.

  • John Pieret

    (Imagine the consternation had the legislators actually voted to make the Koran an “official state book.”)

    Almost as much as when the Louisiana legislature learned that their voucher payments might go to a Muslim school (probably fearing that it might get fire bombed or worse, the school withdrew its application).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/louisiana_n_1593995.html

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @Synfandel #7:

    I like “mooted”. No one actually says that, but I like it anyway.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Look on the bright side. Louisiana has a book now.

  • matty1

    Why the ever living fuck does a state need an official book?

    For that matter why are there are so many official things? A flag and an anthem, sure everyone has those but once you start going – “here’s our official state octogenarian”, “this is our county ruminant” it isn’t long before a significant amount of time is being wasted on this trivia.

  • Chiroptera

    matty1, #13:

    Okay, well, I guess I won’t tell you about my proposal to make the panda Oklahoma’s Official State Non-indigenous Mammal.

  • Sastra

    When this was brought up on WEIT (Why Evolution is True) I wondered about who had a “State Book” and someone posted this link to official state symbols.

    From what I can tell, only two states have a State Book: Massachusett’s Make Way for Ducklings and Michigan’s The Legend of Sleeping Bear . Both are for children and probably were requested by children. Alabama has a State Bible which is the state bible (apparently the actual book they use for swearing in.)

    So yeah, this is not only pandering, it’s a new way to pander. Next we’ll see that Louisiana’s official ‘State Savior’ is Jesus Chris.

  • timberwoof

    “Do bills not have to be vetted by lawyers before they are tabled* in the legislature?”

    Remember the saying that you don’t want to know how either sausage or laws are made? There is no quality assurance process in these sausage factor—I mean legislatures, only quality control. Products are invented by the marketing department, who are also the product engineers and the factory workers. (The governor and the police are the salesmen.)

    Quality control is done by the courts. But instead of product recalls making the sausage factories redesign their products, the marketeers crank up the propagan—I mean election campaigns to explain to people why they should prefer the original version of the product.

  • D. C. Sessions

    it isn’t long before a significant amount of time is being wasted on this trivia.

    Matty, this is Louisiana, remember? Think of what the Legislature might get up to if it weren’t wasting time.

  • http://timgueguen.blogspot.com timgueguen

    Imagine the howls from the lot in Louisiana if someone put forth a bill calling for a novel that contained much of the same content as the Bible being made the state book. “Just look at this chapter, where a man offers to let a mob rape his daughters instead of his male visitors! And then there’s this chapter, where the heroes bash the heads of babies against rocks! And that horrible scene where a bear kills a bunch of innocent children. We cannot allow such filth to be made our official State Book.”

  • felidae

    Maybe Lousyana should change their state song to “Send in the Clowns”

  • Michael Heath

    Sastra writes:

    Next we’ll see that Louisiana’s official ‘State Savior’ is Jesus Chris[t].

    Well, Pistol Pete Maravich did let Louisianians down.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    I nominate John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces as the Pelican State’s Official Book – after all, it was both written and set in the state, by local talent.

    If I’m too late for the State Book category, then make it the Official State Legislature Book.

  • thomwatson

    Same problem when Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-New Harvey, suggested amending the bill to declare “all books of faith” the official state books of Louisiana!

    Not only would this be just as constitutionally inappropriate, the bill’s sponsor explicitly said he would oppose the more ecumenical amendment; it’s Christianity or nuttin’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1608524690 gregorypeterson

    Why, with all of the talented writers from Louisianan, would you nominate an English translation of the Bible?

    I would have gone with Alexandre Latil’s ‘Les Éphémères’ (1841), a book of poetry. Latil (1814-51) was from New Orleans. He caught leprosy when he was in his teens,. His fiance married him anyway and they moved to a leper colony. I think the colony later became a famous cemetery, I think.

    Romance, tragedy, history, handy for literary tourists.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “Why the ever living fuck does a state need an official book?

    For that matter why are there are so many official things? A flag and an anthem, sure everyone has those but once you start going – “here’s our official state octogenarian”, “this is our county ruminant” it isn’t long before a significant amount of time is being wasted on this trivia.”

    It’s what they do in between the exhausting tasks of guaranteeing wombular safety for the unborn and creating jobs.

    Do they have one of these yet?

    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+of+tom+cruise+as+Lestat&id=15775FE37F72D456548524327BA17130AA1A2854&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=15775FE37F72D456548524327BA17130AA1A2854&selectedIndex=0

  • caseloweraz

    I had the snarky thought that the LA lege might want to replace Leadership and Crisis with something unassailable. But that’s probably wrong.

  • dagr

    I’d like to know where they got a 16th century copy of a book that was started in 1604 and published in 1611.