Officials in Oklahoma are debating a proposal that would designate the Bible as the state’s official book.
The bill, HB 3890, was introduced by Rep. Tammy Townley (R-Ardmore), who formerly owned a Christian bookstore, reported KTUL-TV in Tulsa.
“We are people of great faith,” Townley said in a press release. “The Holy Bible is an integral part of numerous faiths and is deeply important to many Oklahomans. Even when we don’t always agree with each other, we always know that we have a foundation higher than politics that we can rely on to remain unshakeable when times are tough.”
Oklahoma does not currently have a state book, but it does have an official heritage horse (colonial Spanish horse), an official flying mammal (Mexican free-tailed bat), an official fruit (strawberries), an official fiber (cotton) and an official steak (ribeye).
Opponents say the measure is unnecessary and offensive.
“Under the First Amendment, citizens are free to choose any ‘holy book’ they like, or none at all – the choice of the 26% of the American population that is currently religiously unaffiliated,” wrote Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder and co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in an opinion column in The Oklahoman. “The United States was not founded on the Bible or any ‘holy book,’ but on our secular and godless Constitution, which grants sovereignty not to a deity or a ‘holy book’ but to ‘We the People.’ The Founders were well aware of the horrors of the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Thirty Years War, the witch hunts and the persecution of various faiths in the individual colonies. That’s why they wanted no part of religion in government.”
A committee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved the measure, which is pending before the entire House.
A bill to designate the Bible as Tennessee’s official state book died last year after several conservative lawmakers opposed it, arguing that it trivializes religion.