Tennessee lawmakers voted 55-38 Wednesday to make the Bible the state's official book. The state's House of Representatives passed a bill that has raised constitutional concerns and sparked further debate among legislators, the Tennessean reported.
A proposed amendment to name former President Andrew Jackson's Bible the state book, an attempt at a compromise, failed. The state's attorney general released a statement Monday warning that the bill would violate the Tennessee and federal constitutions. The Tennessee Constitution says "no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship."
"I know that (the bill) causes people to be divided. It shouldn't, but it does. And that's OK," said Rep. Jerry Sexton, a freshman Republican representative who sponsored the bill, the Tennessean reported. Sexton has said that the bill is meant to honor the historical and economic impact of the Bible on the state.
The state Legislature is Republican-controlled, but there was some pushback to the bill from the GOP leadership before it was passed. “It threatens to reduce our sacred Scripture to nothing more than a secular symbol, and that's a slippery slope,” Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris told FoxNews.com on Monday, adding it was "likely unconstitutional."
The measure must be approved by the Senate and then signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who said he opposes it. Similar bills failed to pass last year in Mississippi and Louisiana.