On Thursday of last week, Governor Bill Haslam (R-TN) vetoed what has been known as “The Bible Bill.” This is a controversial bill that sprang up in the Tennessee General Assembly last year, but didn’t make it out of committee. It was revived this year and narrowly passed through the House and Senate. Governor Haslam stalled for several days before finally issuing the veto Thursday evening. In short, the bill would have made the Holy Bible the official state book for the state of Tennessee.
Knowing my involvement and interest in Tennessee politics, my opinion has been asked on this particular subject. And to save you some reading time, know that this bill is bad for two big reasons:
- “…respecting an establishment of religion…”
By giving special privilege of one sacred text over another, Tennessee sends a message that it prefers one faith’s sacred text over another. Now, interpret this as you wish. But, there is no doubt that an uprising would occur if The Koran or another sacred text were in this position. Therefore, if we are not going to allow the sacred Islamic text to be the official state book, we shouldn’t allow any sacred text to be the official state book. This bill is obviously in contrast with the U.S. Constitution, which Gov. Haslam swore to uphold.
2. “…its significance from a historical, economic and cultural standpoint”
This was the defense of the bill’s original sponsor in the state House. While defending his veto, Governor Haslam said, “My personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is sacred text.” He couldn’t have said it better. Governor Haslam is a devout Christian man who realized that while intentions might have been good, the bill was reducing the Bible from a sacred text to a historical record book. That should trouble any person who calls himself a Christian.
Folks, Governor Haslam made the right decision. And, unfortunately, the legislature will probably override his veto this week.