Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed a controversial bill Thursday aimed at making the Bible the state's official book. In the letter vetoing the bill, Haslam reportedly cited an opinion issued in 2015 by Attorney General Herbert Slatery that said the bill could violate state and federal constitutions.
“In addition to the constitutional issues with the bill, my personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text,” Haslam said, according to the Washington Post.
“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,” he reportedly continued. “If we are recognizing the Bible as a sacred text, then we are violating the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee by designating it as the official state book.”
The legislature still has time to overturn Haslam’s veto by a simple majority, according to reports.
Several others who have backed the measure, which made it through the state senate earlier this month, have emphasized the historical, religious and economic importance of the Bible for the state.
House sponsor Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, cited polls showing Tennesseans are in favor of making the Bible the official state book.
"Sen. Southerland and I are prepared to move forward with a veto override and we plan to do exactly that," Sexton said in a statement, according to The Tennessean.