Should Tennessee Make The Bible Its Official State Book?

Having my coffee in my comfy chair this morning. I was a bit under the weather yesterday struggling with mild flu-like symptoms all day from my second COVID vaccine shot. But, at least I have coffee!

I ran across a story this morning that has my curiosity up and I would like your input about it. As of two days ago from the date of this writing, the Tennessee House passed a resolution declaring the Bible as the Official State Book. Alabama has an Official State Bible purchased in 1853 but it’s not their Official State Book. They only use it during swearing in ceremonies. No other state has the Bible as their Official State Book so Tennessee may be the first.

I Love Reading The Bible

I don’t know about you but I enjoy reading the Bible! Yes, I know. I admit that I am not a Christian. I am on the agnostic side of Christianity and religion in general. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God. It just means that I believe that God is unknowable. And the more that I read the Bible, the more I believe in my ignorance. 

Is Tennessee Endorsing One Religion?

But the question arises, “Are they endorsing Christianity as the State religion also when they choose the Bible as its Official Book?” A couple of reasons state Rep. Jerry Sexton argues is that it reflects family heritage and the multimillion-dollar industry of Bible printing in Tennessee. He also believes that the United States is based on Christian values. A lot of Tennesseans that I know believe the Confederate Flag to stand for “family heritage” but I doubt that it would ever be considered as the Official War Flag of Tennessee.

Why Hasn’t This Bill Passed Prior To Now?

Back in 2016 Gov. Bill Haslam rejected an attempt to pass the same bill saying it “trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.” I agree with Haslam since Tennessee’s official beverage is milk, the official fruit is the tomato, the official insects are the firefly and ladybug, and the official wild animal is the raccoon. The Bible just doesn’t seem to fit into such a category.

Sen. Ferrell Haile (R) of Gallatin, voted against the bill saying in his floor speech that the Bible was intended to be recognized by individuals and “not as a nation, not as a state.” Senator Haile used the Roman Emperor Constantine’s actions in the 4th century as an example saying that government involvement “demeans” the Bible.

Which Bible Is Being Selected To Represent Tennessee?

On the other hand, which Bible are they referring to since there is more than one? Jesus taught from the Hebrew Bible. Remember? There wasn’t a Christian Bible since Christianity didn’t exist yet. After Christianity came into existence we now have the Protestant Bible, Orthodox Christian Bible, and the Catholic Bible. The Catholic Bible is the oldest of the Christian Bibles. The Protestant Bible didn’t come along until the Reformation in the 16th Century when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. The Greek Orthodox Bible has 79 books and includes all the books in the Catholic Bible. It can get very complicated.

Of course we all know that Tennessee means the Protestant Bible. According to the Pew Forum, about 73% of Tennesseans fall into the Evangelical, Mainline, or Historically Black Christian category. That means that 27% of the population are Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, Hindu, Muslim, Non-believers, and other religions. This bill may be at odds with Tennessee’s constitution, which states, “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship,” according to the Associated Press.

Which Version Or Translation Will They Use?

Now that we’re certain that it’s the Protestant Bible I wonder which version or translation they’ll choose. I kind of like the New Revised Standard Version but I think that most Evangelicals like the King James Version. When I was a Missouri Synod Lutheran, we mostly studied from the New International Version unless my Pastor found a problem with the translation that supported his sermon. Then he would pop out another version that made more sense. What version do you use?

One of the reasons we see different versions of the Bible is because of the number of manuscripts available. There are over 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts known to date, along with over 10,000 Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts and over 19,000 copies in Syriac, Coptic, Latin, and Aramaic languages.

Christianity.com

I could go on and on but I would like your opinion. Tell me what you think! The Bible, to me, is a very interesting piece of literature that everyone must read. I don’t know if our country was “founded” on Christian principles or not. You can find argument on either side. I know that the U.S. Constitution was not based on the Christian God or the Bible since there are no references to them. Coffee’s not in there either.

Coffee Should Be Tennessee’s Official Brewed Drink

I say it’s time for another cup. Oh! And how many of you would vote to make coffee the Official State Brewed Drink? We can’t use beverage because milk locks up that spot. Then again, coffee is my sacred drink and I wouldn’t want it to be trivialized by making it an official state anything.

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I’m a busy, happily retired guy who is enjoying life with the love of my life, Jackie. I thrive to be in the moment, remembering that I will die someday (memento mori). That is the only thing that I know for sure. I have spent a great portion of my life studying and contemplating the Bible and the way of the Christian life. One of my passions is to write what I think. You may not agree with me and that's okay. That's what makes life so spicy and delicious! My intention is not to try and convince you to change or to denigrate any religion. I am not that smart. I am not a cleric or a biblical scholar. All of my writing comes from a layman's point of view.

2 thoughts on “Should Tennessee Make The Bible Its Official State Book?

  1. First of all, this is a government’s abuse of individual liberties, which are supposed to be gauranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It may seem trivial, to the christians of TN, but to the people who are not christians, this violates their freedom of religion. It says “bible;” Does that mean the Catholic book or the Protestant book? Why not the Jewish bible, since Jesus was Jewish and taught from the Jewish bible (Old Testament)? Are the TN legislators saying, “Fuck anyone who is not christian!” I think it’s rediculous to have a State Book, in the first place. I just hope that they won’t take the next step and require all people in TN to be a christian. Isn’t that the next logical step? Our Constitution is supposed to prohibit acts like this, but people don’t seem to care about our Constitution, anymore.

    1. Did you know that TN still has on the books that you are disqualified from being elected to state office if they are an atheist (Article IX of the Tennessee State Constitution)? However, I think that it would be superseded by Article VI of the United States Constitution that says no “religious test” should ever be required for federal office. It goes to show you how the Bible Belt stays true to its ways – backward and exclusive.

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