Mississippi Politicians Fight To Name The Bible The Official State Book

Mississippi may rank as the poorest state in the United States, have the second highest teen pregnancy rate, and the highest gun death per capita, but state politicians certainly know what’s really important: trying to name the Bible the official state book.

Two state lawmakers, Republican Rep. Tom Miles and Democratic Rep. Michael Evans have proposed a bill that would designate the Christian holy book as Mississippi’s book.

According to AL.com, it was during a discussion with some voters that Evans hit upon the idea:

“Me and my constituents, we were talking about it and one of them made a comment that people ought to start reading the Bible,” said Evans.

He said that they discussed “all the things going wrong in the world” and someone suggested making the Bible the state book.

Evans, in his fourth year as a representative, is Baptist. “I believe in the Bible,” he said.

Anticipating the obvious concern, Evans says that naming the Holy Bible the state book doesn’t violate the separation of Church and State because it doesn’t force anyone to read it, just encourages them to.

Miles thought critics were wrong to take issue with the bill. After all, he reasoned, Mississippi added “In God We Trust” on the state seal just the year before.

“This (bill) isn’t any more out there than that,” he told Reuters.

It’s unclear whether the proposed bill has a chance to actually pass, although Miles says that bipartisan support from about 20 other state politicians makes it likely to be a success.

Apparently naming one’s favorite holy book the official state book is not uncommon in the American south. A similar proposal was tried in neighboring Louisiana in 2014, but eventually died after public outcry. Alabama went ahead and made the Bible a “state symbol.”

More recently, a town in Alabama went a step further by turning over ownership to God after city council seemed to conclude that the problems facing the tiny town of Winfield were too hard for mere mortals to solve.

These overtly religious moves come at a time when the country as a whole is becoming more secular. As Alternet noted:

The number of Americans who cite “none” when asked about a religious identity is rising rapidly, up to nearly 20% from 15% in 2007, with a third of people under 30 identifying with no religious faith. Two-thirds of the “nones” say they believe in God, suggesting that this is more of a cultural drift towards secularism than some kind of crisis of faith across the country.

Despite the assurances of the lawmakers that making the Bible the state book is no big deal, one wonders how they would have responded had a Muslim politician proposed to make the Koran the official state book. Something tells me, it wouldn’t have been greeted with the overwhelming support of 20 bipartisan legislators.

Feature image via Caffeinated Thoughts