A Tennessee state legislator introduced a bill that hopes to make the Bible the official book of the state.
Rep. Jerry Sexton, a Republican from Bean Station, Tennessee, presented the bill to the Tennessee House on Feb. 10. If passed, the bill would make the bible, "hereby designated as the official state book," according to the language of the legislation.
The bill may never be implemented, even if it passes, because it may violate existing laws on the books in Tennessee. The Tennessee Constitution states “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”
While lawmakers in Tennessee debate the bill, legislators from other Southern states presented similar bills to their respective governing bodies in the last few months.
A Louisiana lawmaker who drafted a similar piece of legislation decided to withdraw the bill from a formal vote last year after critics said the bill violated the principal of separation of church and state.
Others said they think making the Bible Louisiana's official state book would trivialize the text and downplay its importance in the lives of the state's Christians.
In January, legislators in Mississippi presented two separate bills calling to make the Bible the state book. One of the bills, co-sponsored by Reps. Tom Miles and Michael Evans, claims to have support from around 20 legislators from both sides of the aisle.
Miles said he thinks designating the Bible as the state book would be a symbolic gesture. He added it would not force people to read the nearly 2,000-year-old document.
"The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people," Miles said. "They could read in there about love and compassion."