Target: Tennessee State Representative Jerry Sexton
Goal: End push to make the Bible Tennessee’s official state book.
The Bible could soon be the legally-enshrined state book of Tennessee if a piece of legislation by Tennessee State Representative Jerry Sexton becomes law. This is a shameless violation of the United States’ freedom of religion. Demand that Representative Sexton abandon his discriminatory proposal at once.
House Bill 615 is a small bill, with the only material of note in just a few lines of text reading: “The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book.” For all the conciseness of the legislation, however, it carries with it far-reaching implications. The United States Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Giving the Christian Bible legal standing as the state’s official book comes perilously close to violating these legal protections. Indeed, Tennessee’s own state constitution affords citizens arguably even greater religious protections, reading in part, “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”
There is cause for concern that this legislation may pass because the state Senate, House of Representatives, and governorship are all in the hands of Republicans. Sign the petition below to demand that Representative Sexton rescind his proposal from consideration so that it can never become law.
Dear Representative Sexton,
I am writing you today regarding House Bill 615, the legislation you introduced to officially designate the Bible as Tennessee’s state book. I would have hoped that a lawmaker would recognize the problem with this kind of proposal, but apparently that is not so. This is a misguided and likely illegal bill that should be abandoned at once.
Both the Constitution of the United States and of your own state of Tennessee grant citizens the right to freedom of religion. They do this in part by outlining things that the federal and state governments, respectively, are not legally allowed to do. Both documents state that governments are not allowed to give legal preference to any religion over other religions. Unfortunately, your bill to designate the Bible as Tennessee’s state book seems to very clearly run up against these rules. Elevating the holy book of the Christian faith to a unique status not held by any other religion is the government giving one religion preference over all others.
If your bill becomes law, it will serve only to disenfranchise Tennesseans who are members of non-Christian religions who, in many cases, already receive discrimination and hate for their beliefs. It is dangerous and wrong. I demand you abandon this bill at once.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bdcousineau via Wikimedia Commons