Haslam Vetoes Bill to Make Bible TN’s Official Book


Photo: Samuel M. Simpkins /The Tennessean via AP

Tennessee recently proposed a bill that would make the Bible the official state book. Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, vetoed this bill on Thursday.

Haslam stated in a letter to the speaker of the statehouse “In addition to the constitutional issues with the bill, my personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.”

He continued, “If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance… If we are recognizing the Bible as a sacred text, then we are violating the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee by designating it as the official state book.”

Those who back the bill emphasize the historical, religious and economic importance of the Bible for the state of TN. According to the bill “printing the Bible is a multimillion dollar industry for the state with many top Bible publishers headquartered in Nashville.”

Steve Southerland, the bill’s sponsor, stated “It’s about a lot of different things, but what we’re doing here is recognizing it for its historical and cultural contribution to the state of Tennessee.”

Some opponents argue it would be an endorsement of one religion over the others. ACLU-Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg stated, “Lawmakers’ thinly veiled effort to promote one religion over other religions clearly violates both the United States and Tennessee Constitutions, as our state attorney general has already pointed out.”

Haslam explained that he “strongly” disagrees “with those who are trying to drive religion out of the public square.”

He goes on to write, “Men and women motivated by faith have every right and obligation to bring their belief and commitment to the public debate.” He continues, “However, that is very different from the governmental establishment of religion that our founders warned against and our Constitution prohibits.”

The veto could still be overridden with a majority vote by lawmakers, which would make Tennessee the first state to have the Bible as its official state book.

What do you think?

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.

1 Comment

  1. John swisher

    On the surface this looks that Gov. Haslam is against the bible, but that could not be farther from the truth. When asked about this, he clearly stated that he held the bible as God’s word in the highest regard possible and did not want to belittle it by making it equal to the other “official state items”which include a few birds, fish, and a machine gun. My personal opinion is that God’s word does not need to be made official by anyone or any government. It is THE BOOK for all, no matter whether it is recognized. At some point in human history, every one will have to acknowledge who Jesus is and what the bible is. ‘ every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” Roman 14:11.


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