TN Legislator Wants to Make Bible the Official State Book

Jerry Sexton may be a freshman Republican in the Tennessee state legislature but he has already learned how to pander to the rubes with symbolic gestures. He has submitted a bill that would make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.

Freshman Rep. Jerry Sexton wants to add the Bible to the state symbols of Tennessee.

According to the Bean Station Republican’s legislation, the Holy Bible would be “designated as the official state book.”

It’s unclear how the proposal would meet a provision in Tennessee Constitution that states that “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”…

Sexton says his law wouldn’t force religion “on any Tennessean. Simply because it is a religious book does not disqualify it from consideration, nor does it take away from its historically important role.”

Politically, it’s a savvy move. It doesn’t actually do anything, but it does position him as the pro-Jesus legislator. In Tennessee, that can’t be a disadvantage for you. And anyone who opposes him can be dismissed as anti-Christian and probably a Muslim commie bastard too.

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  • John Pieret

    Bean Station, Tennessee? The jokes write themselves!

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    Another state tried this a while back, and the bill was discarded after much heated debate over which translation would get the nod. Would be a traditional Protestant, such as the King James, or a more modern Protestant, such as the Revised Standard or New International? What about a Catholic version, such as the Contemporary English or the New American, Revised? Would any translation be acceptable, or should “The Bible” be defined as only the source texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek? Would Catholic and Orthodox be willing to accept a Bible without the Deuterocanon? Would Protestants be willing to accept a Bible with the Deuterocanon?

    As I recall, the debate became so acrimonious that the whole thing was dropped as a Very Bad Idea.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    Ah! Found the info: Lawmaker pulls bill to make Holy Bible Louisiana’s official state book

    Perhaps Rep. Sexton could better spend his time to change the state motto to “If it is too extreme for Louisiana, it’s just right for us!”

  • D. C. Sessions

    He has submitted a bill that would make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.

    Beats the current situation where nobody has any. Maybe next he can sponsor legislation to teach the citizenry to read, too.

  • busterggi

    Shooter’s Bible? Satanic Bible? Gotta be a little more specific.

  • Chiroptera

    Wouldn’t a better choice be a book that most Tennesseans have actually read?

  • samgardner

    Since it doesn’t do anything, it can’t have any actual bad results either.

    Heck, if I were a rep as an *atheist* I might suggest it (you know…. assuming I could ever get elected as an atheist).

  • Sastra

    samgardner #7 wrote:

    Since it doesn’t do anything, it can’t have any actual bad results either.

    I disagree. Symbolic gestures like this (“it’s just part of our history dontchaknow” *wink wink*) feeds directly into the idea that you need to be religious in order to be a good citizen — and this is a Christian Nation. It seems that every time atheists argue against a church/state violation the words “This is one nation UNDER GOD!” and “Our motto is “In GOD We Trust!” are spat out in triumph.

    And yet these are only supposed to be ‘ceremonial deism’ which does nothing and means nothing … except when it suddenly does. They are all attempts to put a mission statement into a secular country — as in godly mission.

  • Deacon Duncan

    Can we attach an amendment making Ezekiel 23 the official state description of Israel?

  • Trebuchet

    @9: Not unless you use the KJV, which is the only true word of God.

  • U Frood

    Jesus isn’t even an American. I don’t want a book about any immigrant as my state book!

  • Broken Things

    Sastra – I agree. The goal is to make references to Christianity and invocations of God in government and state affairs ubiquitous and thus seemingly innocuous.

  • lorn

    Next they will waste their time declaring “gopher wood” the state wood.

  • eric

    The same guy also introduced HB 0677, which designates the Barrett Model 82A1 rifle as the official state firearm. (H/T to Hemant).

    Good to see that laser-like focus on the economy in action.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    The Bible pretty much was the official book of the Confederacy.

    Fat lot of good it did them.

    Tennessee has existed as a state since 1796, the U.S.-America since 20 years prior to that. Amazing that in such a “Christian nation” as we are that in more than 200 years no legislative body in either of those entities has put the book they ignore — except for the very worst bits of a very lengthy and horrific bit of fiction — on an official pedestal.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that they worship a book instead of an imaginary friend.

  • samgardner

    I disagree. Symbolic gestures like this (“it’s just part of our history dontchaknow” *wink wink*) feeds directly into the idea that you need to be religious in order to be a good citizen — and this is a Christian Nation.

    Apologies, I might have given the wrong impression. I meant it has no bad effects from their perspective with regards to making them less electable. If they advocated something “real” — new standards for schools, or policies that had an impact on work for the government, or something — those could have objectively bad results. I fully agree that feeding into the “Christian nation” is not good policy.