More Religion Pushing in Tennessee Legislature

It’s the beginning of a new legislative term in Tennessee and the theocrats are coming out of the woodwork. One lawmaker wants the Bible to be the official state book and another, Rep. James VanHuss, wants to add Christian language to the state constitution:

House Joint Resolution 71, proposed by state Rep. James VanHuss (R-Jonesborough), would add the language, “We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior” to Article I of the Constitution of Tennessee.

The Tennessean included the legislation in its list of “bizarre” new bills. “That reference to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in the U.S. Constitution isn’t enough for” VanHuss, the paper joked.

The new language could clash with Article I, Section 3 of the Tennessee constitution, which declares “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”

Actually, the paper correctly identified the Declaration of Independence as the source of the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” not the Constitution (unless they had it wrong in an earlier version, but there’s no correction listed). This language is similar to lots of “Christian nation” amendments that have been offered to the U.S. Constitution beginning with the ratification conventions, all of which failed.

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  • John Pieret

    The problem will be, as with the official book nonsense, whether there is anyone with standing to challenge it on constitutional grounds. The language doesn’t seem to do anything, it’s just a statement, like “In God We Trust” (though more explicitly Christian).

    More of that laser-like focus on the economy.

  • raven

    “We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior”

    How does owning slaves fit in then? Didn’t Tennessee fight a war with the United States for the right to keep slaves? And lost.

    Hmmm, seems like the bible is really OK with slavery. It’s everywhere including with god himself, jesus, in the NT. In Exodus you can sell your kids as sex slaves if you need a few bucks.

  • raven

    “We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior”

    This must be the New Talking Point of fundie xians.

    Glenn Beck said the same thing and others say it often.

    They certainly didn’t get it out of the bible. The bible doesn’t do civil liberties. It does murders by stoning for minor offenses such as adultery, nonvirgin brides, and disobedient children.

    Like most of modern xianity, they just Made It Up and claim it comes from the bible. Secure in the knowledge that no one actually reads the kludgy book of mythology.

    I’d like to see some proof of this assertion but it isn’t going to happen. The fundies don’t do proof or data either.

  • raven

    “We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior”

    There is a lot wrong with this statement. One are the words, Almighty God.

    There isn’t one god. There are hundreds, thousands, or millions if you count sockpuppet gods.

    It’s also boring. Try this

    We recognize that our spring and summer do not come from governments, but from Thor and Estre, our Creators and Saviors”

    Right now Thor and the Aesir are battling the Frost Giants to send them back to Helheim and allow Estre to bring on Spring. As you can see, it isn’t all that easy this year. They deserve a line in the Tennessee state constitution unless you want a perpetual winter in the midwest and NE.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    “The new language could clash with Article I, Section 3 of the Tennessee constitution, which declares “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.””

    They’ll say that since the new language doesn’t endorse a specific brand of Christianity, there is no conflict. Just watch. Christinaists are utterly predictable.

  • howardhershey

    Where in the Constitution or the Declaration does it claim that our liberties come from the government? Has there been some law declaring that our liberties come from government that I missed?

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    John Pieret:

    It’s not about actually doing anything. It’s abot christianists marking their territory again.

  • Akira MacKenzie

    “We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior”

    The Christian Right is going have a very hard time using “ceremonial deism” to legally dance around this one. You can’t really claim that “God” is some sort of generic, ecumentical, place-holder deity when you’re claiming that it is some sort of “Savior.” Now, my knowledge of world religions is limited, but how many faiths outside of Christianity preach”salvation” of any sort? Judaism? Islam? The Dharmic faiths?

  • Akira MacKenzie

    howardhershey @ 6

    When last I checked, amending the Constitution and adding (or removing) rights requires 2/3 majorities in both the House and Senate and ratification by at least 3/4 of the states. You can march up and down claiming you have the “right” to do anything you want for whatever reasons you think you have that right, but without the will of government, that right doesn’t exist.

  • Chiroptera

    Maybe they make Christianity the official state relationship with Jesus?

  • Michael Heath

    Rep. James VanHuss (R-Jonesborough) states:

    We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior

    howardhershey writes:

    Where in the Constitution or the Declaration does it claim that our liberties come from the government? Has there been some law declaring that our liberties come from government that I missed?

    It’s a common misconception across all political ideologies that the architecture of our government is premised on rights being granted by government. Even many liberals believe this falsehood.

    What really aggravates this misunderstanding is when people ignorantly or sloppily claim so and so, “doesn’t have a right to do X”. That insinuates, wrongly, that some entity out there is arbitrarily deciding what rights we have or don’t have. That rather than approaching a controversy on what we expect from the government when it comes to our rights. E.g., ‘is the government obligated to protect a particular right?’, ‘does the government have properly delegated authority to infringe on the exericse of a particular right in a particular context?’

    I see this mistake repeated frequently, even in this forum and even by Ed.