Theocrats in the Tennessee Legislature seem hell-bent on making the Bible the “official state book of Tennessee.”
Their proposal to “officialize” the Holy Bible would place the sacred book as a symbol among such other symbols as–(no kidding):
— the raccoon (Tennessee’s state wild animal);
— the tomato (Tennessee’s official state fruit);
— the Large Mouth Bass (the state’s official fish);
— and the Barrett M82 (Tennessee’s recently adopted official state rifle–a .50-caliber sniper rifle and for more on its power and background see here).
So what’s wrong with this proposed law? Why should anyone care?
I’m glad you asked, because God spoke to me and deputized me to be your Answer Man on this nonsense today.
So praise Elvis and pass the grits while I explain.
By a vote of 19 to 8, the state senate has passed a bill that originated in the state House of Reps. It would simply “make the Holy Bible the official state book.” (See here for details and make note of this quote: “In solidly Republican Tennessee, heavy doses of God and guns are considered reliable election-year politics. The Bible bill came to a vote just days before the candidate filing deadline, giving lawmakers pause about being portrayed by political rivals as being opposed to the Bible if they voted against the bill..)
Supporters (including a handful of Democrats) say the measure recognizes the book’s unique role in American history.
Opponents, including some sensible Republicans and many of the state’s churches, church leaders and other religious bodies, say the move could make people of other faiths feel slighted.
Never mind how it would make people of no faith feel in a country where one is free, thank God, not to believe in God or put faith in the Bible.
Even Jesus was a free-will kind of guy.
Even Tennessee’s very Republican Gov. Bill Haslam opposes this bill. The hitch is–he hasn’t said whether he’ll veto it.
“The Bible is the most important book in my life, and I think in the world,” Gov. Haslam told reporters last week. “But that’s very different than being the state’s official book.”
(NOTE TO GOV. HASLAM: I, for one, happen agree with your position wholeheartedly! So be a leader and just say you’ll veto it and then, veto it.)
One sensible Republican in clear opposition, state Sen. Ferrell Haile, is quoted as saying, “The Bible is a book of history, but it’s not a history book to be placed on a shelf. It’s to be lived out in the lives of believers.”
Again–this is a Republican conservative I agree with. Yet unlike the governor, he didn’t waffle in fighting it. Picture me giving him two big thumbs up. (Barry Goldwater, the great American freedom fighter and conservative icon who once said Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition could go to hell together, would be proud, I’m sure.)
As Sen. Haile points out, the Bible’s having a place in world and American history does not mean it’s a history book anymore than it’s a science book (and it is definitely not that either). It’s a HOLY book, a FAITH book, meant to be lived out (thank you again Sen. Haile for saying it!) by people of faith, not to be used for scoring political points from hypocrites in office who preach “family values” at every turn.
Hypocrites like the family-values governor of Alabama, currently fighting for his political life because of yet another political sex scandal. (Honestly, I take no delight in pointing out such hypocrisy. But it’s just astounding how frequently the guilty dogs always preach family values the loudest, isn’t it?)
Opponents say the proposed Bible law also raises a lot of questions, like which translation of so many translations would be the official one? Catholics use a version of the Bible that is a far cry from the old King James version that so many Protestants in the Bible Belt seem to think was writ by Jesus. (A Catholic bishop is among those state religious leaders is not happy about this bill, btw. See here for one reason why.)
And while supporters say they have Jewish friends who have no problem with this kind of junk legislation, their few Jewish friends are hardly representative of most Jews and Jewish leaders in Tennessee and across the country. As in, not representative of any practicing Jews of any significant number.
Of course, nobody cares what peace-loving American Muslims among us might think, except those of us who love and cherish American freedom and liberty and don’t believe God, the Bible or Christianity need protection from the Tennessee Government against Muslims, Jews who don’t believe Christ is the Messiah, non-believers or, for that matter, me.
I’m not a resident of Tennessee but if I were I wouldn’t need the state’s Big, over-reaching Government diddling with my religion and the constitution.
* * *
What I hope is obvious to most Americans is that the proposed law is unconstitutional on the face of it. But ultra-right conservative leaders in so many of America’s state capitols, not to mention in the nation’s capitol, are all for the Constitution—except when they’re against it.
When it comes to guns and God, they’re always plenty willing and ready to play loose with it.
Seriously, my friends.
I am opposed, and passionately so (in case you didn’t pick up on that), to this nonsense, if only because I love and cherish God’s word and don’t want it cheapened and trivialized like it’s some some kind of state raccoon, fruit, fish or rifle by the kind of people who think St. Augustine is a kind of grass that makes for pretty lawns in Southern Living magazine.
I just hope and pray that the theocrats leading the state of Texas these days don’t follow the lead of Tennessee–which honestly is one of my favorite of all American states–that gave us the infamous monkey trials back in one of American history’s Darker Ages.