A bill seeking to make the Bible the official book of Tennessee would violate separation of church and state
provisions in the federal and state constitutions, state Attorney General Herbert Slatery said in a legal opinion Monday.
The opinion was issued to lawmakers a day before the full House was scheduled to vote on the measure sponsored by freshman Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station.
“The Bible is undeniably a sacred text of the Christian faith,” Slatery wrote in the opinion obtained by The Associated Press. “Legislative designation of The Holy Bible as the official book … must presumptively be understood as an endorsement of religion.”
Slatery cites the provision in the Tennessee Constitution that states that “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religion establishment or mode of worship.” That requirement is “substantially stronger” than even the U.S. Constitution’s clause preventing Congress from establishing a religion, he said.
Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown and a lead sponsor of the measure, said (continue reading)