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Tennessee Wasn't First State to Attempt to Make the Bible the Official State Book

Apr 20, 2016

Tennessee’s governor last week scuttled a bill that would have designated the Holy Bible as the official state book, marking at least the third time in recent history that a state made the attempt but failed due to controversy.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the bill, citing constitutional issues and his own belief that the legislation “trivializes” the “sacred text.” The state House on Wednesday failed to override it, according to the Associated Press.

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Similar reasoning kept Louisiana legislators from having any luck getting their own version of such a bill approved in 2014. Republican Rep. Thomas Carmody, who sponsored the bill, withdrew his proposal before it could even reach the state House of Representatives, saying it had become a distraction, The Times-Picayune reported at the time. Before he had switched gears, Carmody said the Bible “would be appropriate” for Louisiana, citing the state’s religious history. However, critics said the bill would be like adopting Christianity as the official state religion, according to the Advocate.

Mississippi also tried to pass a similar bill in 2015, but it failed to garner support in committee. State Rep. Tom Miles, who co-sponsored the measure, told TIME last year that he plans to introduce it again next session. “We feel like if it would have hit the floor, we had the votes,” he said at the time.

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