NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee’s attorney general says a bill seeking to make the Holy Bible the state’s official book would violate separation of church and state provisions in the federal and state constitutions.
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The Associated Press obtained a copy of the legal opinion issued by Attorney General Herbert Slatery on Monday, a day before the full House is scheduled to vote on the measure sponsored by freshman Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station.
“It is our legal opinion that the bill would violate not only the First Amendment of the United States Constitution but the Tennessee Constitution as well. Interestingly, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held the Tennessee Constitution to be more restrictive than the federal Constitution,” Slatery said. The Tennessee Constitution says “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”
Slatery in the opinion 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.”
Slatery says that other state symbols, such as the designation of milk as the official state beverage, “inherently carry the imprimatur and endorsement of the government.”