Senate Dumps Tennessee Bible Bill

A very interesting development in Tennessee, where the House of Representatives passed a bill to make the Bible the official state book. The Republican governor and attorney general oppose the bill and the Senate, led by Republicans, has now effectively killed the bill — on ostensibly religious grounds.

Bolstered by opposition from Republican leadership, the Senate voted 22-9 to send the Bible to committee, effectively killing the bill a day after it was adopted by the House.

“This isn’t the time or place now in the full Senate floor to delve into that. We really need to look into it in committee,” Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said about two hours before the vote…

Norris led the effort to kill the bill in the Senate. He asked for the bill to be sent back to the Senate Judiciary Committee to address the Slatery opinion. The Senate agreed, supporting Norris and effectively killing the bill for the year.

“I sure hope it won’t pass. I think it’ll be a dark day for Tennessee if it does,” Norris said Wednesday.

“All I know is that I hear Satan snickering. He loves this kind of mischief. You just dumb the good book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol, and you’re on your way to where he wants you.”

He actually invoked Satan to oppose making the Bible the official state book. That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?

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  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    I suspect that if they’d voted the bible as “state book” it would have just opened the door for Vox Day to try to get one of his books voted in.

    Oh, shoot, I hope he doesn’t read that.

  • Chiroptera

    That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?

    Not to me, it isn’t. It may be hard to imagine with the theocratic Tea Party so loud and obnoxious, but there is a strain of conservative, evangelicals who are deeply suspicious of intertwining of church and state. Not necessarily to the point of advocating complete separation as we secularists would like, but still suspicious. The point they claim is how corrupted the Medievel Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation state churches ended up becoming.

    I was a Christian when Ronald Reagan and the Right Wing Republicans were starting to play their first set, and I remember asking the pastor of my church about his thoughts on the Moral Majority. His response was that he supported their stands on the various issues, but he had concerns that mixing church and state would end up corrupting the church.

    Also, Norris may have actually been concerned about losing tourism business or scaring conventions from meeting in Tennessee, but the Satan bit is a cover for the rabid rubes.

  • gshelley

    Maybe someone had proposed the wrong bible

  • Scott Hanley

    He actually invoked Satan to oppose making the Bible the official state book. That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?

    Sounds like a reasonable thought is trying to sneak into his brain, but won’t get past the guards unless it’s in disguise.

  • abb3w

    Sounds slightly similar to Teddy Roosevelt’s objections to “In God We Trust” on US Coinage.

    @2ish, Chiroptera:

    It may be hard to imagine with the theocratic Tea Party so loud and obnoxious, but there is a strain of conservative, evangelicals who are deeply suspicious of intertwining of church and state.

    Using the GSS, nationally about 20% of those who self-identify as “fundamentalist” and consider themselves “extremely conservative” nonetheless support the SCOTUS ruling on school prayer. In the south, that might be more like 10%; but in any case, while slightly rare, hardly inconceivable. While it may no longer be so widespread since after Civil War era splits in the churches, strong support of separation as a shield against corruption of both church and state was a very common Baptist attitude circa 1800 or so.

  • edmundog

    That’s similar to the objections of Sholom Aleichem and many others over making Hebrew the official language of Israel. They said that by making the language the common language of their religion, as opposed to the secular Yiddish, they would be both cheapening the religion and tying it too closely to the government.

  • grumpyoldfart

    He actually invoked Satan to oppose making the Bible the official state book. That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?

    I thought it was standard procedure. If you fuck up in America you just say “The devil made me do it” and you are absolved from all responsibility – and even better: the rubes believe you!

  • carpenterman

    “You just dumb the good book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol…”

    I didn’t think you could dumb that book down any further.

  • dingojack

    “Bolstered by opposition from Republican leadership…”

    Well, that sounds hopeful. Is this an early sign that the pro-Wall Street/Neocons are beginning to peel away from the Teabaggers/Fundies? (The former group are in search of the votes of the middle, not splitting due to any kind of grand ideological reasons, naturally).

    Dingo

  • http://thebronzeblog.wordpress.com/ Bronze Dog

    He actually invoked Satan to oppose making the Bible the official state book. That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?

    I don’t like the rationale, but I’ll take it and hope that he’s trying to hint that he’s thought ahead: enshrining one particular Christian church or Bible version in law would lead to sectarian division among the various denominations. Hence Christians should support separation of church and state, rather than be so desperate to score political brownie points against non-Christians that they end up setting precedents for persecuting their own denomination down the line.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    I think this is the position that Roger Williams would have taken. He coined the “wall of separation” metaphor, but in his mind the wall existed to protect religion from being sullied by association with secular matters.