FFRF criticizes passage of three theocratic bills in Tennessee

A shot of the Tennessee state flag, a red flag with a blue stripe on one side, in the center is a blue circle with three white stars. The background is a bright blue sky with cumulus clouds.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is excoriating a theocratic bill signed into law in Tennessee that makes a version of the bible an “official state book.”

House Bill 1828, which was signed today by Gov. Bill Lee, will add the “Aitken Bible” (among other documents) as an official state book of Tennessee. The Aitken Bible plays an important role in Christian nationalist rhetoric because of a persistent myth that it was printed by the U.S. Congress for use in public schools. This is false. In fact, Congress declined a request of Robert Aitken to publish his bible. Aitken wanted Congress to endorse his bible and to publish it for placement in schools, and Congress said “no.” Professor Warren Throckmorton has thoroughly analyzed and eviscerated the propaganda behind this myth.

Two more egregious bills advancing Christian nationalism have passed the Legislature and are expected to be signed into law soon.

House Bill 2125 designates November as “Christian Heritage Month” “encouraging citizens to learn more about Christian heritage in this state.” FFRF has fought back against similar proclamations in the past, asserting that the Christian heritage movement attributes any generic reference to religion or “God” as supporting our “Christian heritage.” This is an attempt to rewrite history to proclaim America as a “Christian nation.” Such proclamations alienate nonreligious and non-Christian Americans by turning them into political outsiders in their own state.

House Bill 2100 uses conservative talking points to protect conservative consumers from being “discriminated against” by progressive banks, but does not provide the same protections for minority groups against religious banks. Notably, the Christian theocratic Alliance Defending Freedom is touting the progress of this bill as a win, showing that it will inevitably be used by Christian nationalists as a way to privilege Christian-run business and services.

These bills reveal the goal of Christian nationalist legislators to place a theocratic seal on every aspect of American life: from books to banks to calendars. It goes without saying that FFRF is firmly opposed to any such measures — and is dedicated to fighting them at every turn.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lobbying arm, FFRF Action Fund, asked its advocates to voice their concerns over these bills. Unfortunately, despite their activism, Lee was more than content to elevate Christianity above minority religions and secularism.

“Secular rights and principles in America, not just Tennessee, are truly under attack,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor comments. “We’ll continue to oppose these sorts of laws that trample on the rights of non-Christians in Tennessee and in every state.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation serves as the nation’s largest association of freethinkers, with 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including almost 500 members and a chapter in Tennessee, and works as a state/church watchdog to safeguard the constitutional principle of separation between state and church.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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