The Tennessee House of Representatives approved the Holy Bible as the official state book with a 55-38 vote. Jerry Sexton proposed the bill, which passed even though many were questioning its constitutionality.
According to The Tennessean, 20 Republicans voted against the bill and only six Democrats voted in favor of it.
The bill was proposed by Republican Jerry Sexton, a former pastor. According to The New York Times, Sexton said the law represents the Bible’s historic, economic and cultural impact on Tennessee.
After the vote, Sexton said, “History's going to tell us where we stand on this. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to have the side that I'm on.”
He continued, “It may be kind to me in the future and it may not be kind, and that's OK. I made a decision for today and I feel good about it.”
Republican John Ragan suggested a bill that would have made Andrew Jackson’s Bible the official book of Tennessee. Ragan believed that making the book specifically Jackson’s Bible would circumvent some separation of church and state laws.
However the House voted against that amendment, 48-41.
Gov. Bill Haslam was unhappy how easily it passed through the House. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said that he hopes the Senate does not pass the bill.
“I sure hope it won't pass,” Norris said. “I think it'll be a dark day for Tennessee if it does.”
“All I know is that I hear Satan snickering. He loves this kind of mischief. You just dumb the good book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol, and you're on your way to where he wants you,” he added.
While Haslam was unhappy that it passed through the House, he did not comment on whether he would veto the bill.
Republican Ron Lollar commented, “I am what I am because that book made me what I am. The morals, the values.”
He continued, “Everybody that talks about diversity: in this country, they're here because of that book and that constitution.”
ACLU-Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg did not comment on whether the ACLU was planning a lawsuit over the bill. She did say that the ACLU felt the law was unconstitutional.