NASHVILLE, April 14 (UPI) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday vetoed a controversial piece of legislation that seeks to make the Bible the state’s official book.
In vetoing the bill, Haslam cited a legal opinion issued last year that the bill could be a violation of the state and federal constitutions, The Tennessean reported.
Further, Haslam said he believed the legislation, if passed, would minimize the religious text.
“In addition to the constitutional issues with the bill, my personal feeling is that this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text,” Haslam wrote in a letter to House Speaker Beth Harwell.
“If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance,” he continued. “If we are recognizing the Bible as a sacred text, then we are violating the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee by designating it as the official state book.”
The bill would have made Tennessee the first state in the nation to make the Bible its official state book.
Thursday’s was just the fourth veto of Haslam’s five years in office.
The issue, however, is not dead. The bill’s main sponsor in the Tennessee Senate said he would submit the measure to the legislature to override Haslam’s veto. To do that, both chambers only need the action approved by a simple majority — 50 votes in the House and 17 in the Senate.
Those votes are expected to occur when the legislature returns from a recess on Monday.