Representative Jerry Sexton, a Republican from Bean Station, is sponsoring legislation that would add the Bible to the state symbols of Tennessee, in hopes of making the Bible the “official state book.”
It is currently unclear whether the proposal would meet separation of church and state provisions outlined in the federal and state constitutions. The Tennessee Constitution states that “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”
Similar proposals to make the Bible the state book failed in Mississippi earlier this month and Louisiana last year. Supporters maintained that they weren’t trying to force religion on anyone or require Bible reading, but the measure was ultimately unsuccessful.
Some Tennessee lawmakers last year sought to have the phrase “In God We Trust” displayed above the main Capitol entrances and behind the speakers’ podiums in both the House and Senate.
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