TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- A national organization said it will consider pursuing legal action if the governor signs a bill making the Bible the official state book.
Senators voted 19 to 8 to approve this bill Monday despite arguments from the state’s attorney general, who said the measure violates both the state and U.S. Constitutions.
This bill is one of the first like it in the nation, and it’s gotten national media attention.
Supporters of the bill say the bill aims to recognize the Bible for its historical significance, not to endorse one religion over another.
Some opponents say it promotes Christianity, while other opponents like Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) said it demeans the bible.
“They tried to pass it as a history book, well let me assure you, I believe the Bible is the divine word of God, not just a history book, so I ended up voting against that,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said his ‘no’ vote on this bill isn’t for his lack of reverence for the Bible, in fact quite the opposite.
“The Bible is my official book, but to put it in the (Tennessee) Blue Book with the Tulip Poplars and the salamanders, and raccoons, I think demeans the book,” Ramsey said.
On the other side of the opposition, “The Bible as state book bill is a discriminatory piece of legislation designed to promote one group’s religious preference, in this case Christianity, above all minority religions and non-religion,” Sam Grover, Staff Attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation said.
But supporters say it’s not about promoting Christianity, it’s about honoring the Bible for its historical, financial, and cultural impact in Tennessee.
But still, Grover said the bill is illegal and unconstitutional.
“FFRF is disappointed in the Tennessee Senate for placing more value and pandering to their Christian constituents than in upholding our constitution,” Grover said.
Grover said the FFRF will consider legal action against the state if this bill becomes law.
“If Governor Haslam signs this bill in to law, FFRF will review its legal options with our many Tennessee members who have already contacted us and their representatives to voice their opposition to this bill,” Grover said.
Ramsey said potential lawsuits have nothing to do with why he voted against this bill. “Honoring this as a history book I think misses the whole point of the Bible to me,” Ramsey said.
Before this bill reaches Haslam’s desk Ramsey has to sign this bill. He told us despite his opposition,he does plan to sign it since it passed. The bill will then head to the governor’s desk.
Haslam has voiced his concerns about this bill but has not said whether or not he plans to sign it.
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