Updated: 12:26 PM PDT, March 25, 2021
A bill to make the Bible Tennessee’s official state book will proceed to the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives after a committee on Tuesday recommended the legislation for passage.
In the bill, Republican state Rep. Jerry Sexton said that the Bible should be the state’s official book to, among other reasons, reflect family heritage and underscore the multimillion-dollar industry that is Bible printing in Tennessee.
“The Holy Bible has great historical and cultural significance in the State of Tennessee as a record of the history of Tennessee families that predates some modern vital statistical records,” the legislation reads.
“Printing the Bible is a multimillion-dollar industry for the state of Tennessee with many top Bible publishers headquartered in Nashville, including Thomas Nelson, Gideons International, and United Methodist Publishing House,” it reads.
According to The Tennessean, Sexton said that the Bible should not be “discriminated against” because of its religious nature and that the United States was established on Christian values.
Many Republican lawmakers on the committee supported Sexton’s bill, The Tennessean noted, while some Democrats were opposed. This is the third attempt in the Tennessee legislature to designate the Bible as the official state book. In 2016, then-Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, rejected a bill with the same goal, saying it “trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.”
Haslam pointed to a 2015 opinion issued by state Attorney General Herbert Slatery, a Republican, that said the bill would violate the state and federal constitutions, The Tennessean reported.