Just days after Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Senate advanced legislation that would ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports, a House committee approved a resolution designating the Bible as the state book Tuesday morning despite constitutional concerns from several lawmakers.
HJR150 would include the Bible in the Tennessee Blue Book next to a list of other state symbols.
This is his third attempt to designate the Bible as the state book.
“The bill has raised constitutional concerns in the past. A 2015 state attorney general opinion found the designation in violation of the state constitution,” reports the Tennesseean. “Former Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican and Christian, vetoed the bill and argued the legislation ‘trivializes’ the Bible as a ‘book of historical and economic significance.'”
Sexton said he does not think the Bible should be “discriminated against” because of its religious nature. He said the United States was founded on Christian values.
“This country wasn’t founded on Buddhist, or Muhammad or any of those religions,” he said. “Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values.”
Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) questioned the constitutionality of Tennessee endorsing a religion, arguing that the First Amendment prohibits legislative attempts to “respect” or “prohibit” religious establishments or activities.
Living in a neighborhood where residents practice multiple religions, Mitchell said he cannot support the bill.
“It’s kind of hard for me to be caring and tolerant of my neighbors if I’m telling them my book is better than their book and it ought to be recognized by this state,” he said.
Earlier this month, Tennessee’s GOP-dominant Senate sparked controversy and sharp criticism by Democrats and civil rights advocates, who have warned that Tennessee will likely face costly legal challenges if their anti-trans bill is signed into law.
However, despite threats of pending litigation, nearly a dozen states this year have lawmakers backing restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for trans minors this year.