Tennessee’s governor rejected a bill Thursday that would designate the Bible the state’s official book.
“If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance,” Haslam said.
Sponsors of the bill said it was intended to honor the significance of the Bible in the state’s history and economy as opposed to a government endorsement of religion.
The language of the bill states that many Tennessee families kept vital records in family Bibles passed down through generations.
And economically, many top Bible publishers are headquartered in Nashville, the bill states.
However, the state’s attorney general warned lawmakers the bill would violate both the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions.
In vetoing the legislation, Haslam seemed to heed that warning, saying “if we are recognizing the Bible as a sacred text, then we are violating the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Tennessee by designating it as the official state book.”
Republican state Sen. Steve Southerland, an ordained minister and one of the bill’s sponsors, plans to hold a vote to attempt to override the veto next week.
In Tennessee, it takes a majority in both chambers to override the governor’s veto.