By Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker
Freedom From Religion Foundation
It's hard to believe that in 2014 a bill to declare â€śthe Holy Bible the official state book of Louisianaâ€ť would gain traction in the Louisiana legislature. Yesterday, a House committee voted 8-5 to approve House Bill 503, which does precisely that, and now heads to the full House of Representatives for a vote.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shrevepoint, originally declared a specific 16th century copy of the bible in the Louisiana State Museum system as the â€śofficial state book.â€ť Then Carmody changed the language to make the â€śgenericâ€ť King James Version the â€śofficial state book.â€ť
Itâ€™s an understatement to point out there are a lot of problems with this bill. First, the King James Version ainâ€™t â€śgenericâ€ť â€” itâ€™s Protestant. There were riots in the streets, arsons of churches, deaths in Philadelphia in 1843, over precisely this kind of show of government preference for the King James Version over the Catholic version in public schools.
Ironically, aware that the bill endorses Protestantism over Catholicism, Rep. Stephen Oretego, D-Carencro, argued: â€śLetâ€™s make this more inclusive of other Christian faiths, more than just the ones that use the King James Version.â€ť This, of course, misses the point: Government preference of all â€śChristian faithsâ€ť is equally inappropriate and unconstitutional, being intrinsically exclusionary of all non-Christians and all non-believers. Same problem when Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-New Harvey, suggested amending the bill to declare â€śall books of faithâ€ť the official state books of Louisiana! (Imagine the consternation had the legislators actually voted to make the Koran an â€śofficial state book.â€ť)
Itâ€™s hard to credit this degree of zealotry, insensitivity and ignorance among state legislators in a nation where surveys and polls show that as many as 30% of the U.S. population now identifies as nonreligious. The â€śChristian Nationâ€ť Big Lie, repeated over and over, apparently has done its damage. Legislators who took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution in all its glorious godlessness apparently have never bothered to examine it.
The taboo against criticizing the bible has also taken a toll. Ruth Hurmence Green, author of "The Born Again Skepticâ€™s Guide to the Bibleâ€ť (the first book FFRF published and still a bestseller), put it this way: â€śThere is no other book between whose cover life is so cheap.â€ť The bible is a handbook for superstition, despotism, bigotry, oppression of women, homophobia, child abuse and the substitution of blind obedience and faith for reason.
Hereâ€™s a thought â€” how about making Richard Dawkinsâ€™ blockbuster, â€śThe God Delusion,â€ť Louisianaâ€™s official state book? These legislators are clearly under the delusion they live in a theocracy.