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Louisiana Bill Would Make The Bible Official State Book

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The Bible could become Louisiana’s official state book if state legislators have their way.

A Louisiana House committee voted 8-5 last week to recommend a bill that would make the Bible Louisiana’s first-ever state book, the Baton Rouge, La. Advocate reported Monday.

Republican State Rep. Thomas Carmody said recognizing the Bible in this way would not be the same as making Christianity the official state religion, which would be illegal under the U.S. Constitution. “The Holy Bible would be appropriate for the state of Louisiana,” Carmody said, citing the state’s religious history.

While some representatives called the bill offensive and said it should be more inclusive of other religions, others debated which version of the Bible, such as a King James version, should be chosen if the bill goes ahead.

“Why not put all versions of the Bible?” Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego, asked. “If there’s one, what are we saying about the rest of the people?”

Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said she was not pleased with the plan.

“This whole thing is really a not very well concealed effort to use discrimination against those people in Louisiana who do not include the Holy Bible in their belief system,” she told TIME. “It’s unfortunate that Louisiana thinks it’s okay to try and enshrine discrimination in the law.”

[Baton Rouge, La. Advocate]

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Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com