Tennessee House votes Bible as official state book

The Holy Bible is the official book of Tennessee in the view of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
A display screen shows the results of the Bible bill vote in the Tennessee House.
Despite questions of constitutionality, lawmakers beat back an attempt to make Andrew Jackson's Bible the official book and voted 55-38 in favor of Rep. Jerry Sexton's original bill. "History's going to tell us where we stand on this. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to have the side that I'm on," said Sexton, R-Bean Station, after the vote. "It may be kind to me in the future and it may not be kind, and that's OK. I made a decision for today and I feel good about it."

Although a GOP-led effort, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, was one of 20 Republicans to vote against the measure. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, and four Republicans abstained. Only six Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, suggested making Jackson's Bible the official state book. He thought the move would have shifted the bill into safer legal waters, noting Attorney General Herbert Slatery's opinion that making the Bible the official state book would violate the state and federal constitutions.

Reps. Matthew and Timothy Hill, brothers and Republicans, questioned why Ragan chose Jackson's Bible. Matthew Hill asked why not Elvis' Bible; Timothy Hill asked why not consider Davy Crockett's Bible.
Ragan said neither were president, but the debate didn't go very far. The House voted 48-41 to kill the Jackson amendment.
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