This has been a banner week for the state of Tennessee as Republican lawmakers have chosen to make two popular objects official state emblems.
First, state leader chose to make the .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle the official state gun. Then they followed up by voting to make the Bible the official state book! Republican state Senator Steve Southerland, who sponsored the bill, argued that its purpose was to highlight the important historical and cultural contributions the Bible has made on the state. Southerland said that opponents’ concerns that this bill would either trivialize the Bible’s importance or that the bill would mean that the state was illegally “sponsoring” one religion over another, were both misplaced.
However, it’s not just liberals and Democrats who are voicing concerns with the measure. Conservative Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, also a Republican, argued that the measure was not just trivial but that it would be fiscally irresponsible as well. “I am a Christian, but I am also a constitutionalist and a conservative. It would be fiscally irresponsible to put the state in a position to have to spend tax dollars defending a largely symbolic piece of legislation. We don’t need to put the Bible beside salamanders, tulip poplars and ‘Rocky Top’ to appreciate its importance to our state.”
While conservative concerns about the controversial measure are well founded, the liberal outcry has been unsurprisingly petty. The ACLU believes that Republicans were pushing the bill as a way to promote Christianity over other religions and they are calling on the citizens of Tennessee to begin filing lawsuits. The executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, Hedy Weinberg, said that the bill was a “thinly veiled effort to promote one religion over other religions clearly violates both the United States and Tennessee Constitutions.” She also promised that the ACLU would foot the bill for anyone who wanted to sue the state and challenge the bill.
Because as usual, the liberal response to anything they don’t like is to sue.
This could all be moot though because Republican Governor Bill Haslam has indicated concerns about this bill in the past, and at the moment, it seems more likely than not that he’ll veto the bill.
So what do you think? Is the state of Tennessee doing the “right thing” by making the Bible the official state book? Or are Tennessee Republicans doing more damage than good by pushing a controversial measure that will have little to no actual impact on the state?