Comments about ‘Bill would name the Bible as Louisiana state book’

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Published: Thursday, April 10 2014 3:30 p.m. MDT

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Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Thereby ensuring Louisiana will forever be stuck in the bronze age.

Eagle Mountain, UT

I possibly can't see this bill being ruled unconstitutional. Nope, no sir. No way that establishing a religious text as the "State book" could be construed as the "Establishment of Religion" in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Can't think of the State of Louisiana having anything more important to do than fighting a losing court battle. Nope, see no problem here.

On the other hand
Riverdale, MD

You won't find a finer specimen of Louisiana literature than the Bible... despite the fact that it was written thousands of years before there even was a Louisiana, on a completely different continent.

clearfield, UT

I'm not so sure. This could pass the Constitution test. Think about it. Congress shall make no law.............. And the state merely uses the Bible as an expression of literature, and not an endorsement of any particular religion, then the other part of the first Amendment, free speech might take over. So which part of the first Amendment has the trump card when freedom of expression and religion collide? Any legal scholars out there?

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@happy2bhere – “And the state merely uses the Bible as an expression of literature, and not an endorsement of any particular religion…”

Yes, the pious State of Louisiana is simply seeking to do the equivalent of adopting Pride & Prejudice as the State Book… please.

@happy2bhere – “So which part of the first Amendment has the trump card when freedom of expression and religion collide?”

Since a State is attempting to pass legislation (which has nothing to do with free expression), the trump card would be the establishment clause... no legal scholars necessary.

clearfield, UT

Tyler D
Have you ever heard of school or college classes that read the Bible as strictly literature? Well they are out there. And it is ironic that many who are athiest, (don't know about you specifically) believe that the Bible is nothing but a fantasy anyway. So it is certainly possible to classify it a a piece of literature. And, if you look at it, religion in the first amendment has two things empowering it. One is of course free speech, and two is that it is placed as untouchable by Congress. That is a pretty powerful position to be in. The freedom of speech, by the way, would include religious speech as much as any other speech. Or don't you agree? If you don't agree then you are opening the door to a lot of other speech that people hate to hear being restricted. Now you wouldn't want that would you? Yes, legal constitutional scholars are needed.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Happy to Be Here and Tyler D,

The Bible, at least the KJV, is often cited for and studied because of its literary worth. A credit to Tyndale (its primary translator).

That said, this is clearly not the intent of the good people of Louisiana. This is not about literature. Period. If it were they would choose something written by a native son or daughter.

clearfield, UT

Twin Lights

We know it is not the intent of the people of Louisiana, but can they get away with it is the question. If the people of Louisiana made the case that you just made about the Bible, it could pass muster. Suppose some group took a piece of literature like say the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia, and used that for their religious text. To some it is fiction to others it is religion. Or what if the Mary Baker Eddy book (Science and Health the Key to the Scriptures) which is the standard for the Christian Science religion, were introduced by New Hampshire, where she was from, to be their state book. Would that pass the test? I think it is an interesting problem as to where courts would/could draw the line.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@happy2bhere – “If the people of Louisiana made the case that you just made about the Bible, it could pass muster.”

Perhaps… if Louisiana were populated mostly by literature appreciating atheists.

And you are conflating an individual’s ability to practice religion with a government’s right to establish it (hint: they have none). This case clearly falls under the later…

clearfield, UT

Tyler D

So that just takes us full circle. Because, the Bible, or any other religious text, can be different things to different people. No court or government could make a case about what is in the mind of the reader. Be they individules or a whole state of citizens. Plus, the best argument is that recognizing a book about religion is not establishing any religion at all. That's the weakness of using the establishment clause to stop all religious recognition. The clause was written by the founders so that there would never be a Church of the United States of America, and financially supported by the tax payers, who would in essense be forced to support a religion that might not be their own. Remember, they were trying to get away from the Church of England. If the non recognition of any thing construed as religious were absolute, then things like the image of the 10 commandments and Moses at the Supreme Court would be illegal. And using prayer to open sessions of Congress would be illegal. They're not and those things do not establish a religion.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@happy2bhere – “Plus, the best argument is that recognizing a book about religion is not establishing any religion at all.”

The Constitution is a vague enough document to allow for different interpretations of meaning. This often requires a deep dive into dated source material, and even there different Founders saw these issues differently – Madison, the father of the Constitution, thought chaplains in the military were unconstitutional… hardly supportive of your views.

But let’s table that for minute and look at a possible scenario – if the state of Michigan were to become largely Muslim and they adopted the Quran as their state book (what does that even mean?), would you as a Christian (I’m assuming) feel you were equal in the eyes of the law if you were hauled into a Michigan state court?

Following your line of reasoning, there would be no basis to stop this scenario in MI, something I think we would all agree would make the Founder turn in their graves.

There’s an excellent book by Forrest Church containing many of the Founders writings on this topic.

American Fork, UT

The real issue is why do we even need such a thing as a state book... sounds like a waste of time and money to me.

the truth
Holladay, UT

A state book does not establish a religion anymore than a state tree or a state bird establishes them as something to worship.

It is just sate recognition of a book and its historical influence and nothing more, it carries no other weight. If it was used as some sort of litmus test in a court then it would be unconstitutional. And it would be appealed and overturned. Same with the quran. But judges today and in the past have made decisions based on much worse reasoning than the bible. And we have survived.

Religion is allowed and can not be disallowed in the in public square as any form of conscience or expression or speech is. An Religions can influence publically, including the making of law, as any group or organization can.

The first amendment is only about what congress can not do and nothing more. Not the peol;e or how ever they organize themselves.


The question to ask is, "What is the intent of making the Bible the official State Book? What factors led to choosing the Bible instead of some other book?"

The answers to those questions will determine the Constitutionality of this action - and the best place to find the answers will be the floor debate surrounding passage of the bill (should it pass). The fact that the sponsor of the bill mentions "sacred text" shows that he, at least, does not view it as mere literature.

Is it going to be studied in school like other State Symbols? If so, are students going to be free to refer to it as "mythology" or "just literature" without being reprimanded by the teacher or bullied by other students? (Schools that offer Bible as literature classes treat it as any other source of literature, picking it apart and examining it closely, giving it no deference.)

Are those who hold the Bible as sacred prepared to have it treated as a State Symbol instead of/in addition to being a religious symbol? Are they willing to have it put in the same category as Tom Sawyer, The Odyssey, and Pride and Prejudice?

the truth
Holladay, UT


Your questions are irrelevant. And it is not a state symbol. Have you had any concerns over sego lilies and seagulls. the state flower and bird based on local Mormon history, here in Utah? Your imagined concerns seem to be based on some irrational fear of religion.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

And the difference of States like Iran having the Koran as their official Sate Book is what?

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