Louisiana Lawmakers Vote to Make the Bible the State Book

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 14 2014 9:15 PM

Louisiana Lawmakers Vote to Make the Bible the State Book

452158221-the-translation-of-the-biblical-psalms-the-bay-psalm
Louisiana lawmakers look to make the Bible the state book.

Photo by TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Louisiana’s state flower is the magnolia. The state’s symbolic drink of choice is milk. What Louisiana is missing, however, is a state book. State lawmakers came up with a solution to that problem last week however, introducing a bill that declares the Bible as Louisiana’s book of choice.

The idea was put to the Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee in the state house, which approved the measure by an 8-5 vote, advancing the bill to the full House. House Bill 503 was submitted by Republican State Rep. Thomas Carmody and proclaims “there shall be an official state book” in Louisiana and “the official state book shall be the Holy Bible.”

Advertisement

Carmody’s choice of symbolic state sanctioned reading proved to be problematic for some Democrats on the committee, according to the Advocate. Their beef? Carmody’s selection of a King James version of the good book. Here’s how that sticking point unfolded via the Advocate:

[It] brought immediate objection from Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro, who said his Catholic Bible contains some books that aren’t in the King James version. “A lot of people believe in a Bible that has things different than what’s in there, not just Catholics. It’s also Orthodox,” Ortego said. “Why not put all versions of the Bible? If there’s one, what are we saying about the rest of the people?” added Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego.

Yes, what about the rest of the people. Lest the committee’s back-and-forth on the issue be construed as missing the old-growth forest they were wandering through while quibbling about what trees they liked best, Rep. Ebony Woodruff entered the fray.

“You don’t think it’s offensive to some citizens of this state to select the Bible as the official state book?” asked Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey. Woodruff suggested Carmody add “all books of faith like the Quran, the Torah.” Carmody said he thought the Bible was “the appropriate symbol.” Ortego proposed and the committee approved getting rid of the specific King James version in favor of the general Holy Bible.

And so it was. But, what of that pesky church and state not comingling issue? Not a problem. Carmody points out, the Advocate reports, “the state can have more than one state book, just as it has more than one official jelly.” "This is not about establishing an official religion," Carmody told the Times-Picayune.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana is predictably unimpressed. The organization says the bill "represents the use of religion to discriminate against Louisianians of minority faiths or who do not adhere to that particular book as part of their belief system. The bill will create more problems than it will solve by telling some Louisianians that their belief system is not full equal."

The bill will go before the full Louisiana state house later this week, according to KTAL.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 9:22 AM The Most Populist Campaign of 2014
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 9:13 AM Clive James, Terminally Ill, Has Written an Exquisitely Resigned Farewell Poem
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.