For Now, the Bible Is Not Official Tenn. State Book

     (CN) – The Tennessee Senate on Thursday voted 22-9 to send a bill making the Holy Bible the state’s official book back to a judicial committee.
     The state senate also voted 19-13 not to hold a committee meeting discussing the bill next week. It can be introduced again at a later time.
     The decision comes a day after the Tennessee House of Representatives voted 55-38 in support of the measure.
     Earlier this week, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued an opinion on the matter, saying it is “commons sense” that the bill would constitute an endorsement of religion in violation of the state and federal constitutions.
     “Legislative designation of the Holy Bible as the official book – as an official symbol – of the state of Tennessee, when viewed objectively, must presumptively be understood as an endorsement of religion and of a particular religion. Irrespective of the legislation’s actual purpose, common sense compels the conclusion that designation of the Bible as the official state book in practice and effect conveys a message of endorsement,” Slatery wrote. “Such an endorsement violates the establishment clause of the federal constitution, regardless of whether the message of endorsement is intentional or unintentional and regardless of whether the message is conveyed in reality or only in the public perception.”
     The bill was introduced in February in the Tennessee House of Representatives by Rep. Jerry Sexton and in the Tennessee Senate by Sen. Steve Southerland, both Republicans.
     The Tennessee Constitution states, in relevant part: “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”

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