AG Says Tennessee Can’t Make the Bible the State Book

AG Says Tennessee Can’t Make the Bible the State Book April 15, 2015

The Republican attorney general of Tennessee has issued an opinion stating that the bill in the state legislature that seeks to make the Bible the official state book is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. I doubt that will have any effect at all on its passage.

A bill seeking to make the Bible the official book of Tennessee would violate separation of church and state provisions in the federal and state constitutions, state Attorney General Herbert Slatery said in a legal opinion Monday.

The opinion was issued to lawmakers a day before the full House was scheduled to vote on the measure sponsored by freshman Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station.

“The Bible is undeniably a sacred text of the Christian faith,” Slatery wrote in the opinion obtained by The Associated Press. “Legislative designation of The Holy Bible as the official book … must presumptively be understood as an endorsement of religion.”

Slatery cites the provision in the Tennessee Constitution that states that “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religion establishment or mode of worship.” That requirement is “substantially stronger” than even the U.S. Constitution’s clause preventing Congress from establishing a religion, he said.

And the predictably stupid response:

But supporters like David Fowler, the president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, said last week there’s nothing belittling about the proposal. If anything, it highlights that “there is no book that has played the role in the history of Tennessee equal to that of the Bible.”

“This book has had more practical use, more historical use, and more economic impact in our state than any other book,” he said.

Oh, do tell. I can’t wait to hear him explain how the Bible has had an “economic impact” on the state.

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