Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the state’s official book.
“In addition to the constitutional issues with the bill, my personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text,” Haslam (R) wrote in a letter to the speaker of the statehouse.
“If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance,” continued Haslam. “If we are recognizing 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.”
The controversial measure made it through the state senate earlier this month after it died in that chamber during last year’s legislative session.
Lawmakers can still override Haslam’s veto by a simple majority, according to the Tennessean.
Backers of the measure have emphasized the historical, religious and economic importance of the Bible for the state; the bill asserts “printing the Bible is a multimillion dollar industry for the state with many top Bible publishers headquartered in Nashville.”
Earlier this month, the bill’s sponsor — Republican Sen. Steve Southerland, an ordained minister — responded to questions on whether he considered the Bible a historical or religious book.
“It’s about a lot of different things,” Southerland said, according to the Associated Press. “But what we’re doing here is recognizing it for its historical and cultural contribution to the state of Tennessee.”
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Elahe Izadi