There are a lot of gun-toting, Bible-clinging patriots in my home state of Tennessee.
So it was not all that surprising when lawmakers recently named the Barrett M82 as the official state firearm. Nor was it all that surprising when they launched an effort to make the Holy Bible the official state book.
The proposed language is pretty straightforward: “The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book.”
State Sen. Kerry Roberts told The Tennessean that the legislation is meant to commemorate the historical nature of the Good Book – referencing George Washington’s inauguration.
“He used the Bible for his swearing in,” Roberts told the newspaper. “The attitude of these people was not to keep religion out of government. It was to keep government out of religion.”
Try telling that to the editorial board of The Tennessean.
The newspaper issued a blistering rebuke of lawmakers who support the so-called Bible Bill – calling them theocrats and comparing them to Muslim Ayatollahs.
“This is Tennessee, not Tehran,” they sneered. “We are governed by the people, not the religious authorities.”
OK, folks. Let’s take a deep breath here.
I would suggest the newspaper’s editorial board would have a valid point – if in fact the lawmakers were beheading people and throwing citizens off buildings and torturing ministers. But they are not.
The move to make the Bible the official state book is akin to a state having an official vegetable or an official snack.
In other words, the Bible bill would have no discernable impact on people’s daily lives. There will be no forced conversions or baptisms in the Volunteer State.
The newspaper went on to suggest that the bill is “clearly an attack on religious minorities, and secular, agnostic or atheistic people, who are also protected by the state and federal constitutions.”
“It is also an attack on religious people who have a strong interest in ensuring that government does not endorse one way to worship God over another,” the editorial stated.
It’s not just journalists and Democrats who have a problem with honoring God’s Word.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has expressed some concerns about the pending legislation. It’s unclear whether he will sign the bill into law. He opposed a similar measure last year.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, also a Republican, told The Tennessean he has some reservations about the bill.
Lawmakers should be commended for their efforts to honor the Holy Bible. We are, after all, one nation under God. So why not recognize His book?
But imagine what kind of a nation we would be if folks went one step further – and decided to live by the teachings of the Good Book.
By the way — Tennessee’s official state beverage is milk — I wonder if The Tennessean is going to accuse lawmakers of attacking lactose intolerant people?