Tennessee naming “Holy Bible” as state book is outrageous

Statement By the Freedom From Religion Foundation

The Tennessee Legislature has embarrassed itself by passing a patently unconstitutional bill declaring "The Holy Bible" as the "official state book." It is hoped Gov. Bill Haslam will veto it, but it's shocking that such a bill could get this far

Religious faith is a matter for private conscience, not state endorsement. In his decision upholding the Freedom From Religion Foundation's challenge of Christian indoctrination in Rhea County public schools in Tennessee, Chief U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar of Chattanooga noted:

"A state-created orthodoxy puts at grave risk that freedom of belief and conscience which are the sole assurance that religious faith is real, not imposed." 28 Doe v. Porter, 188 F. Supp.2d 904 (E.D. Tenn. 2002)

The bill is like a Religious Right caricature: A legislature in our secular nation may not endorse one religious teaching over others, or over nonreligion. But the Legislature has also deeply embarrassed itself by endorsing a book rife with teachings unacceptable in today's world.

As the bible is the much-praised bestseller that is rarely read, many believers are ignorant of its injunctions. The bible endorses slavery (Exodus 20:21) and misogyny (Gen. 3:16 and throughout). The angry, vindictive god of the bible, whose "name is jealous" (Exodus 34:14), commands, condones and commits bloodthirsty genocide and ethnic cleansing (examples: Deuteronomy 20:16–17, Numbers 33:52–53), and calls for putting to death homosexuals (Leviticus 18:22). The bully of scripture even threatens to rip open pregnant women (Hosea 13:16) and to cause them to eat their children (Leviticus 26:28–29).

The Jesus of the New Testament, who claims to be identical to Jehovah (John 14:9), often threatens hellfire (Matthew 13:41–42; Matthew 25:41) encourages castration (Matthew 19:12), bodily mutilation (Matthew 5:29) and the hatred of family (Luke 14:26).

Are these the lofty values the state of Tennessee should encourage its citizens and its schoolchildren to emulate?

The governor must veto this rogue bill and tell Tennessee legislators to get off their knees and get to work.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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