House to consider controversial proposal to make Bible the official state book
The 99-member state House of Representatives is set to vote Thursday on a proposal to make the Bible the official book of Tennessee.
The controversial bill, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, is on the agenda for the chamber’s Thursday floor session. When the bill was last considered on the House floor in 2016, lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to override former Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of the measure.
Last week, the current Bible bill easily passed the House Naming, Designating, & Private Acts Committee, the lone panel of the lower chamber to consider HB 2778. But the bill hasn’t made much movement in the state Senate.
“It is not my intent to bring this legislation to cultivate adherence to religious principles or aid in religious devotion,” said Sexton, in a video recording of the committee meeting.
“Simply, my purpose for bringing this legislation is to memorialize the role the Bible has played in Tennessee’s history and acknowledge the impact it’s had on Tennessee’s culture, music, literature and business industry.”
Several committee members also spoke in support of it.
But Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, challenged the bill. He pointed out that it could be viewed as exclusionary by some Tennesseans and potentially prompt lawsuits, citing the 2015 opinion issued by Attorney General Herbert Slatery that said the bill could violate the state and federal constitutions.
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The following is a 1960s movie about the Monkey Trial that took place in the state of Tennessee in 1925 and shaped the psyche of the Americans for the next several decades: