MORRISTOWN (WATE) – The good book could become Tennessee’s state book. A bill to male the Holy Bible the official state book is set to be back on the Senate floor Monday. The bill originally came up in 2015 and was resurrected this year by Sen. Steve Southerland from Morristown who says this is a move most Tennesseans want.
‘I think we just need to get back to the basics and follow the golden rule and what the Bible teaches us is right and wrong and I think in a sense the bible needs to be incorporated,” said Deborah Stuart of Talbott.Previous story: Effort renewed to make Bible official book of Tennessee
Lawmakers say designating the Bible as the state book is to recognize its historical and cultural contributions in Tennessee, but not everyone agrees with the idea.
“I know our forefathers were founded on that but today I think it needs to be separate. Everyone has their own opinion,” said Trever Reed of Morristown.
Currently Tennessee does not have a state book. Other states have tried similar legislation, but it’s failed. If the bill passes here, Tennessee would be the first.
“If it causes people to read the Bible more, as a pastor I would be very excited about that. If it causes people to be introduced to the God of the Bible and the good news of his son Jesus,” said Pastor Dean Haun of First Baptist Church of Morristown.
Lawmakers say there’s no specific version that would be listed, just the Holy Bible.
“I don’t think it diminishes the Bible in terms of, I think it actually honors and puts the bible in a special place, a special position. And it says, ‘Hey, this is a book above all other books,” said Pastor Haun.
Whether this bill passes or fails, Pastor Haun says he salutes the message.
“Anything that would cause them to want to hear He has a plan for their lives, that God loves them. I’m all for it.”
As a guideline this time around, Sen. Southerland says he’s using a 2005 Supreme Court ruling from Texas finding the 10 Commandments are allowed on public property.
The ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg released this statement:
We are disappointed that Tennessee lawmakers have voted to use their official positions to promote their personal religious beliefs. The rich religious diversity in our state is best respected by ensuring that government does not promote specific religious books. Selecting the Bible as the state book amounts to government promotion of one religion over other religions, which clearly violates both the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions. America is a place where people are free to practice religion, or not, without government officials deciding which beliefs should be endorsed. We will continue to fight this unconstitutional legislation.