Tennessee is thinking about making the Bible its official book

If the governor approves, it will become the first state to do so 

Feliks Garcia
New York
Tuesday 05 April 2016 18:13 BST
Tennessee is home to a large number of Bible publishers Getty Images
Tennessee is home to a large number of Bible publishers Getty Images

Tennessee lawmakers have approved a proposal to make the Holy Bible the official state book, meaning it now only awaits the state governor's approval.

The proposal, which has been highly contested over the past year, passed by a narrow margin in the Senate, according to Nashville Public Radio, with some critics calling the measure “sacrilegious” and “unconstitutional".

State senators voted by 19-8 in favor of the measure, only two votes more than the required number to make the change.

Supporters of the measure, including Republican sponsor Senator Steve Southerland, cited the long history of Bible publishers in Tennessee, which includes Thomas Nelson, Gideons International, and United Methodists Publishing House.

NPR reported that both Tennessee Govenor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Herbert Slatery have questioned the constitutionality of the measure.

Democratic state senator Lee Harris raised concerns that adopting the Bible as the state book prioritizes one religion over others in the state.

“My constituents tell me that they want us to respect the diversity of faith traditions in the state of Tennessee, not just a single view or a single religious tradition,” Mr Harris told legislators.

“And I think they're right about the diversity of faith traditions in our state. One in five Tennesseans are not Christians. This group includes Tennesseans that are Jewish, Buddhist, and also those that do not identify with a religion.”

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