Outreach & Events - Freedom From Religion Foundation
Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

A toxic, unconstitutional Tennessee bill declaring "The Holy Bible" the "official state book" is on the verge of becoming law. Help FFRF ensure that Gov. Bill Haslam vetoes it. 

Shockingly, Senate Bill 1108 was approved 19-8 by the Tennessee Senate on Monday and will now head to Haslam's desk. Even though he is very conservative, Haslam has expressed objections to the measure. But by letting him know our opposition, we can make certain he doesn't go in the wrong direction. 

CONTACT THE GOVERNOR NOW

Contact Gov. Bill Haslam. Call him at (615) 741-2001 or e-mail him using the official form.

Please also make a public fuss by sending a timely letter to your favorite editor and making use of social networks to protest the bill.

See information and talking points below.

This bill is a supremely inappropriate attempt by zealous legislators to force Christian ideology upon all Tennesseans, regardless of their religious—or nonreligious—preferences.

And it would be fiscally irresponsible to make SB 1108 part of the Tennessee legal code. The Tennessee attorney general has determined that this bill would violate the Establishment Clause and Article I, § 3 of the Tennessee Constitution. That's why having this bill become law would expose the state to a costly lawsuit that could exceed $100,000, according to the General Assembly's Fiscal Review Committee. 

The bible is rife with violence, misogyny, homophobia, genocide, slavery and intolerance of nonbelievers. The state that was home to Pulitzer Prize winners Robert Penn Warren and Cormac McCarthy, not to mention Alex Haley and playwright Tennessee Williams, should have no trouble choosing a more appropriate "state book" (if indeed any state needs to designate a "state book").

READ MORE

"Tennessee lawmakers who back Bible bill of theocrats," by David Plazas, The Tennessean, March 31, 2016: "The Bible bill is clearly an attack on religious minorities, and secular, agnostic or atheistic people, who are also protected by the state and federal constitutions."

TALKING POINTS 

Personalize your statement if possible, or feel free to cut and paste the wording below.

Please veto the unconstitutional bill declaring the "Holy Bible" a "state book" of Tennessee.

As a Tennessee citizen and constituent who is nonreligious (along with 24 percent of the population), I reject the concept of "holy books," and specifically object to the Christian bible. I am outraged that any legislator would contemplate adopting an overtly unconstitutional state law endorsing the bible, much less declaring it the official state book of Tennessee.

We live in a secular republic, not a Christian nation or state. It is not the business of the state of Tennessee to dictate what religion citizens should conform to.

Several Missouri public school employees are unconstitutionally promoting evangelical youth ministries, charges the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

It was reported to FFRF that South Valley Middle School and Liberty High School teachers in Liberty, Mo., are spreading the word about Young Life and Wyldlife on school property and during school time in their professional capacities. (Young Life has as its explicit mission "introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith," with Wyldlife sharing in this purpose.) The teachers wear T-shirts during the school day with the names of these ministries emblazoned on them. It was also reported that two teachers have posted publicity flyers, with at least one advertised meeting for Young Life taking place in the school during the school day.

District employees may not promote or champion religious organizations either in their official capacities or during the school day, FFRF asserts. As government employees, public school employees have the obligation to avoid the appearance of endorsing religion under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

"When Liberty High or South Valley Middle School employees advertise for Young Life or Wyldlife during the school day, they are using government time and resources to promote their personal beliefs," writes FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott to Liberty Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Tucker. "Such actions, especially in the context of the public school system, violate the Constitution. By allowing teachers to promote local evangelical organizations during the school day, the Liberty Public School system is endorsing these groups in violation of the First Amendment."

FFRF notes that regulating what public school employees may advertise or promote in their official capacities doesn't violate their free speech rights. Public school teachers have access to a captive audience of students due to their positions as educators. Therefore, the school district has a duty to restrict religious proselytizing during the school day.

FFRF asks Liberty Public Schools to investigate the situation and to make certain that its employees are not unlawfully and inappropriately promoting religious organizations during school hours.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a state/church watchdog organization with more than 23,000 members nationally, including almost 300 in Missouri.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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