Tennessee bill to make Bible the state book



The above article covers the passing of a bill in the Tennessee senate to make the Bible the official state book.

Beyond the questions of church and state separation and showing favor for one religion over others, I found one particular quote interesting. State Senator Steve Southerland defended the bill by saying, “The Holy Bible is a history book.” A fellow state senator, Ferrell Haile, replied, “The Bible is a book of history, but it is not a history book to be placed on the shelf.” I know Senator Haile’s opinion lines up with what is spoken about here on CAF, but I want to go back to Seantor Southerland’s quote.

It seems odd to me when a believer will undercut the purpose of a religious item or concept in order to slip it into public use. Some of those who support crosses on public property will claim they are not religious symbols. Some of those who want the 10 Commandments in courthouses, will forego the religious thrust of the first four commandments. Some of those who support the use of “In God We Trust” on things like money and public vehicles will play coy as though the phrase covers a litany of beliefs. And here we have a state senator trying to make the case for The Bible not as a religious text but as a historical one (a case that falls quite flat).


I am glad that Tennessee wants to recognize the Bible. We need the Bible in America more than ever. It is a book that guides the foundations of our nation.


I am also glad that they want to recognize the Bible in such a manner. I do have a question though. Are they recognizing the Protestant canon of the Bible, the Eastern Orthodox canon of the Bible, or the Catholic canon of the Bible?


Narrowly edging:


:wink: :slight_smile: Both good books. But one is THE good book. :heaven:


Or just the words “The Bible” (?) … enough to anger some … delight others … and perhaps garner votes for those incumbents who sponsored this and noted the demographics.

On the cultural front, this may make Tennessee the buckle on the Bible Belt (again?).

My favorite Bible Song (probably produced in or published in or popularized in Tennessee).

youtube.com/watch?v=59hWl7I81fc < Hank Williams Sr. raw version


(CHORUS) Dust on the Bible, dust on the holy word
The words of all the prophets and the sayings of our Lord
Of all the other books, you’ll find, there’s none salvation holds
Get that dust off the Bible and redeem your poor soul

I went into a home one day to see some friends of mine
Of all the books and magazines, not a Bible could I find
I asked them for the Bible, when they brought it, what a shame
For the dust was covered o’er it, not a fingerprint was plain


You can read your magazines, read of love and tragic things
And not one verse of Scripture, not one verse do you know
When it is the very truth and its contents good for you
Dust on the Bible will doom your poor soul

Read more: Kitty Wells - Dust On The Bible Lyrics | MetroLyrics

youtube.com/watch?v=KpaV50HEgzM < Kitty Wells version

Culturally this is SO Protestant (regionally Southern … and somewhat pioneer timey) to my ear. YET … I love it. It does seem like historic Tennessee to me. And though my roots are Irish Catholic … I love other cultures that stretch me a bit. And people who like myself are searching for a deeper relationship with God. Per faith … I consider such … allies. And really ALL those*** people of good will*** who don’t share every theological detail in common with “us” < and a diverser “us” than the Catholic Church you will not find (though it’s not the ONLY cultural melting pot there is :smiley: :grouphug:).

Historically the folks who pressed on to the frontier on the other side of the Cumberland Gap in the early days of our nation DID have “The Bible” in a high place in their society, rustic and disorganized as frontiers can be.

Cultural America today has a lot of pushback against public expressions of faith. Lawsuits. etc. And this story will be bigger than it is now IMO.

I don’t think mandatory READING of the Bible in Tennessee Public Schools is in the offing. But I wonder, if a Tennessee school teacher (with a defense of “academic freedom!”) began exploring the new “state book” with his/her students … if we might not have a reverse example of Tennessee’s famous Scopes “Monkey Trial”.



About time.

Even those who do not share the Catholic or other Christian Faith’s should recognize the primacy of this book in creating the America we know and love. From the Pilgrims, to Lincoln’s second inaugural, to the flap over Mr Trump and “Two Corinthians”, those who built, led and have governed this country were guided by the truth in its pages.



What is an official state book anyway?

I agree with you Mike that it shows a lack of integrity to misrepresent one’s articles of faith for personal gain, and Catholic teaching holds that “the end does not justify the means”.

My understanding of the separation of church and state means that the government cannot establish a religion so I am not in favor of this kind of bill even though I am in favor of spreading the gospel.

It is true that our system of law, which evolved from the Magna Carta and English Law, is based on biblical principals so it would be acceptable to show appreciation for that fact without establishing a singular religion or “official book”. This is why we are sworn in on the Bible.

As for allowing crosses, Christmas trees, or nativities to be placed on public property, I don’t see that those are establishing a singular religion but are artistic displays which give appreciation to our rich heritage and culture. Other religious displays should be allowed as well, including those of Native Americans etc. They are protected by free speech and no one is forced to believe any particular ideology they may symbolize even though they are free to do so.

If our Catholic parents, schools and priests at the pulpit would adequately catechize the Catholics of this nation, our presence at the poles, in political office, in business and medicine would create a moral culture much more effectively than passing any mandatory morality laws ever could.


I knew there were state mottos, state flowers and state songs, but I did not know each state had a book.


I think any state can have an official state whatever-it-wants. New York could decide tomorrow its official state hairstyle is the Trump Flump. :shrug:

States choose symbols to represent them, for reasons of civic pride, promotion, tourism, whimsy, whatevs. Not all states have an “entry” in all categories, but I imagine that when any state declares it has selected an official state whatzit, other states will soon follow.

In March 2011, Utah adopted the M1911 pistol as its state firearm.

The Cajun Accordion is the state musical instrument of Louisiana.

Kansas’ official state toy is the Etch-a-Sketch.

Utah decided that their state vegetable was the Spanish sweet onion…while its *historic *state vegetable is the sugar beet.

Texas’ state pepper is the Jalapeño…while its state *native *pepper is the Chiltepin.

Texas’ state health nut is the native pecan. California’s official state health nut is NOT Gwyneth Paltrow.

Moxie is the state soft drink of Maine.

In 1988, Oklahoma decided its state meal was barbecued pork, chicken fried steak, sausages and gravy, fried okra (Okrahoma?), grits, and squash.

Hotdish is NOT the state food of Minnesota (it’s the blueberry muffin).

Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a type of brewer’s yeast used in making beer, is Oregon’s state microbe.


that all seems silly to me.


The point of establishing state symbols, I always thought, was a kind of harmless way of teaching the school-aged state legislators of tomorrow how a bill is passed - because who is ever made unhappy by the designation of the Official State Vegetable?

But the Bible is set to join the other Offical State Things of Tennessee, including the racoon (Wild Animal), honeybee (Agricultural Insect), milk (Drink), salamander (Amphibian), limestone (Rock), tomato (Fruit), a number of variations of the State Tree and State Flower, and NINE official state songs. (The last one, adopted in 2011, was ‘Tennessee’). While we’re wondering why it took 9 attempts to for Tennessee to name ‘Tennessee’ as it’s state song, at least the previous 8 and all the other symbols are generally fairly inclusive.

Picking our Holy Book as a state symbol on the other hand seems both unnecessary and divisive. (To say nothing of disrespectful - we don’t usually lump the Bible with the Channel Catfish, one of the two State Fish). What’s most irritating is that there isn’t really a point to the designation except as a contribution to a perceived ongoing Culture War (7 states now have official firearms too, in case anyone has noticed).

State symbols should not be a matter of politics. While I consider the Bible to be as fundamentally important as anyone else, I hope, this is a choice that ought to be dropped, and TN should go back to naming things that aren’t divisive. Utah has a state cooking pot. When did a Dutch oven hurt anyone? :shrug:


I’d say this sort of move is a result of the numerous attempts to remove Christianity and its influence from the public sphere. The ire should lie there.

Too often we allow things to happen over time, and then lash out at those who react.

Bakers are attacked as bigots or unfair over wedding cake policies, when the ire should be directed at homosexuals couples who lack both the common sense to shop elsewhere, and common decency to not foist their agenda on America.

People mock and complain about those who tout the War on Christmas, instead of deriding those who whine about nativity scenes, Christmas parties and Christmas trees.

People used to care about important things - the right to vote, ending slavery, promoting decency on the airwaves, helping the indigent.

Now we are a spoiled nation of toddlers who have one group whining about everything that bugs them in the slightest, and another group falling over themselves to placate the whiners. Both groups are an embarrassment to a once great nation.


I don’t really have an opinion about this. I honestly don’t know my state bird, flower, etc. so this will be just one more thing people don’t know outside of trivia night.

That said, because I’m a pedantic pain in the you know what, technically shouldn’t it be state books.


The local bishop opposes this move citing the potential to cause division, and also questioned which version of the Bible would be considered the official state book. I agree with him.


“As a Catholic, as a Christian, we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, but I also recognize that we live in a pluralistic society and we have a mixture of different faiths,” said Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville.

Making the Bible Tennessee’s official book could “cause division within the state,” he warned, noting that he doesn’t need a state proclamation to realize the Bible is an important book.


This is pointless, unnecessarily divisive, and questionably Constitutional. Seems like a way to score political points and nothing more.

closed #16

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