Tennessee’s Christian governor has vetoed a bill that would make the Bible the official book of the state, saying that the bill goes against both the federal and state constitutions.
According to Christian Today, though Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam identifies as a Christian, he opposes the bill because he believes the Bible should be recognized as more than an historical text.
In a letter addressed to Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, Haslam wrote:
"My personal feeling is that this bill trivialises the Bible, which I believe is sacred text. If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn't be recognising it only as a book of historical and economic significance.”
"If we are recognising the Bible as a sacred text, then we are violating the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Tennessee by designating it as the official state book. Our founders recognised that when the church and state were combined, it was the church that suffered in the long run,” he continued.
Despite vetoing this bill, Haslam said he strongly opposes those who are trying to eradicate religion from public life. “All of us should and must bring our deepest beliefs to the places we are called, including government service,” he said.
Hedy Weinberg of the American Civil Liberties Union applauded the governor’s veto:
"Religion thrives when it is left in the hands of families and faith communities. Publicly elected government officials cannot use their official positions to favor one religious belief over another. The governor's veto of this unconstitutional legislation ensures that religious freedom can flourish in Tennessee,” she said.
Tennessee is known as a state which is friendly to Bible-believing Christians. Many top Bible publishers have established their headquarters in the state, and polls revealed that six in 10 Tennessee residents support making the Bible the official state book.
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Publication date: April 15, 2016