Move to designate Bible 'official state book' in jeopardy

Thursday, April 8, 2021
Michael F. Haverluck (

Bible 1

Tennessee's House of Representatives passed a resolution last week that would make the Bible the "official state book" of Tennessee – if and when it is approved by the state Senate. But the state's lieutenant governor may have the final say on that.

HJR 0150 passed 55–28 in the House, as announced by, and maintains that the Bible has made a vital impact on Tennessee's economy, while helping to maintain the Volunteer State's vital records for past centuries. The resolution then went to the Senate, where it needed a sponsor to push it through the committee system.

Under the Senate rules, the first senator to sign on to a House Joint Resolution sent to the Senate becomes the prime sponsor; Lt. Governor Randy McNally – a longtime opponent of the move to make the Bible the state book – was the first to sign on, according to the Tennessean.

"Given his vocal opposition to the resolution," says that report, "McNally's decision to sign on as a sponsor signals his likely intent to kill the effort by never allowing it to be taken up in a Senate committee."

The Tennessean notes that while it has been referred to a committee, the resolution has not been placed on a calendar. McNally – identified as a Catholic in the report – argues the resolution makes light of the Bible "by comparing it to other official state objects, such as the salamander as the state amphibian," says the report.

God's Word … and more

In addition to containing the guiding principles for people to follow – while showing the way toward salvation and eternal life – Bibles in Tennessee serve another critical purpose, as explained in the measure.

"[The Tennessee State Library and Archives] holds hundreds of family Bible records in several formats and within many collections [because they include] vital records [of births, marriages and deaths]," the resolution states, noting that comprehensive records were not recorded by the state in Bibles prior to the 20th century. "These Bibles contain a history of Tennessee families that may not be found otherwise."

It was also noted in the resolution that the Bible has bolstered the state's economy, with publishers – including Gideons International, Thomas Nelson and the United Methodist Publishing House – making Bible publishing "a multi-million-dollar industry" in Tennessee.

"Even the Los Angeles Times has acknowledged the economic impact of the Bible in Tennessee," the resolution reads.

The Bible was compared to national resources that are crucial to the state's economy.

"[The tulip poplar was chosen as the State tree because – according to the Blue Book (state publication)] – it grows from one end of the state to the other' and was 'extensively used by the pioneers of the state' for practical purposes, such as the construction of 'houses, barns and other necessary farm buildings,' similar to how the Holy Bible is found in homes across the State and has been 'used' for practical purposes, such as recording family histories," the resolution notes. "The honeybee plays a vital economic role in Tennessee, [as does the printing and distribution of the Holy Bible in Tennessee]."

Tennessee's Christian heritage is also evident through its official wildflower.

"[The passionflower was selected as Tennessee's official wildflower, despite the fact that it received its name from] early Christian missionaries to South America who saw in the various parts of the curiously constructed flower [as] symbols of the Crucifixion – the three crosses, the crown of thorns, nails and chord," the Blue Book informs.

Being much more central to Tennessee's religious heritage, economy and culture, the Bible was chosen hands-down as the best candidate as the state's number-one book.

"We hereby designate the Holy Bible as the official state book," the resolution concludes.

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