However, on Tuesday, a bill to make the Bible Tennessee’s official state book cleared a House Committee. In the resolution carried by Tennessee House of Representative Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station), the Bible would be designated as the state’s official book to reflect family heritage and the major economic impact of Tennessee’s publishing industry.
“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 with many top Bible publishers headquartered in Nashville, including Thomas Nelson, Gideons International, and United Methodist Publishing House”.
Sexton also voiced that the Bible should not be “discriminated against” due to its religious nature, especially since the US was established on Christian values.
"This country wasn't founded on Buddhist, or Muhammad or any of those religions," he said, The Hill reported. "Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values."
Several lawmakers in the committee supported the resolution with US House of Representative Glen Casada saying the Bible “represents ‘common heritage.’"
"Just like Nathan Bedford Forrest and Ida B. Wells and now the Bible, it's just our common heritage," he said. "And those things should be welcomed by everyone in Tennessee. You don't have to agree. You don't have to like it, but it's part of our common heritage,” The Tennessean reported.
However, Representative Bo Mitchell questioned the bill’s constitutionality.
"It's kind of hard for me to be caring and tolerant of my neighbors if I'm telling them my book is better than their book and it ought to be recognized by this state," he noted, according to The Tennessean.
This is the third attempt by the Tennessee legislature to appoint the Bible as the official state book. Former Tennessee Governor in 2016 rejected a similar bill, stating that it “trivializes the Bible” while a 2015 opinion issued by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said the bill would violate state and federal constitutions.