The Tennessee state senate has passed a bill making The Bible the official book of Tennessee, and sent it to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature. I don’t know if he’ll sign the bill into law or not, but I’m thinking he will not. I could be wrong.
As you might have guessed, this bill has not been without some controversy. I was surprised it got through both sides of the legislature. Both are Republican controlled, but they have done some very un-Republican things, so it can be difficult to read the tea leaves there.
Opposition to the bill is coming from all sides. Many Christians oppose it because it trivializes The Bible like it’s the state bird. Non-Christians oppose it for obvious reasons. Republican Steve Southerland sponsored the bill in the Senate. He says he wants to recognize The Bible for its historical and cultural contributions to the state.
As a Christian, I don’t mind the bill. After all, Tennessee is often referred to the Buckle of the Bible Belt.
But if Haslam signs the bill, I don’t see it standing up in the court case that everyone knows is coming. Sutherland claims he knows of a legal organization that would defend the law in court, for free. Even if that were to happen, there would still be state expenses for employees’ time and many other unknown expenses.
As a taxpayer in Tennessee, I do not want our money spent this way. The bill clearly violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Tennessee Constitution. The state highway fund is $6 billion in the hole, so Haslam wants to raise the gas tax. Tennessee must deal with education and poverty issues, including healthcare for the poor.
This may sound like a good idea too many. but I think Tennessee should focus its time and money on more pressing issues.