The Bible — the official state book?

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Not many people I encountered found it flattering that Tennessee legislators were seriously considering the Bible as the official state book of Tennessee. In fact, some people saw it as sacrilegious and blasphemous when considering that many laws enacted and actions taken by legislators themselves were less than holy.

Suggesting more than having the Bible serve as a guide or historical reference would be hypocritical and facetious when you look at the reality of many of the actions of those elected to serve us. Little empathy or concern for the marginalized and down trodden citizens of Tennessee seems to be considered in the legislation that’s usually enacted. Adopting the Bible as the official state book of Tennessee would allude to the notion that we value its teaching. Judging from past and present practices that would be a sham.

Often citizens see many of our elected officials as complicit in a collusion of greed and self-absorbed endeavors going against what is in the best interests of the common man to show allegiance to their political party. What ever happened to doing the right thing for the common good of the citizens, even if it meant crossing party lines to do so? Let’s be real and just acknowledge greed and selfishness are not virtues that the Bible favors. But these vices are practiced by too many legislators. How can you rationalize the Bible being the official state book of Tennessee when thousands of people are denied health care by a partisan group of Republicans playing with people’s lives? But why would many legislators care? They have ample health care at a nominal cost paid by the taxpayer. You have more lobbyists advocating for big businesses and special interest groups. Many are seeking perks and legislation to benefit self-serving esoteric parties.

Maybe there should be periodic sessions when legislators rededicate their vows to serve the people who elected them. There appears to be inequities and improprieties in every area serving common citizens, whether it is education, housing, healthcare, or employment. But you would have the public believing the Bible is the guidebook by which we live? How insulting. Having the Bible as the official book of the state would be living a lie and the epitome of hypocrisy. As the axiom goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But this would be an act of heresy toward the Bible, belittling and trivializing its teaching. This action would be just for show or would be used by some radical Christian extremists to wreak havoc.

Whatever happened to separation of church and state? Many state officials constantly cite it when it is convenient. I believe in the Bible, but that is my personal choice and should not literally be used to represent others with different religious beliefs. The citizens of Tennessee consist of a multitude of ethnic groups practicing different religions. Having the Bible as the official state book may be over looking their feelings and concerns. We must be cognizant of all our citizens, not just a select group. Maybe that is our biggest problem—catering to a select group whose concerns are not always in the best interests of all people.

How does the Bible fit in when you have a state that can rationalize honoring the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan in many public venues (the capital building is one) regardless of the feelings of African Americans? How does the Bible fit in when you have racist and bigoted citizens literally salivating at the mouth to have Donald Trump as our next elected president?

No doubt the values found in the Bible could benefit all people. But forcing the book as a reference basically representing the values of Tennesseans is not fair to all parties involved. A group of people legislating a religious book promoting views they don’t necessary practice is hypocritical as well as insulting to others who practice different religions.

Maybe if more Christians truly practiced the teachings of the Bible, others might be more moved to follow.

Words without deeds are worthless. The Bible can be practiced without making a mockery of it by saying it represents the people and values of our state collectively. Right now, many people see that it would just be a joke. The Bible is too sacred and holy to be used for political reasons. Gov. Bill Haslam did the right thing in vetoing the bill, which would make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.