- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The state Senate sponsor of a proposal to designate the Holy Bible the official book of Tennessee is trying to persuade colleagues to revive the effort.

Republican Sen. Steve Southerland of Morristown tells the Chattanooga Times-Free Press (https://bit.ly/1UxV4AV ) that he will renew his push for the measure during Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The House passed the bill on a 55-38 vote last year, but the Senate sent it back to committee amid constitutional concerns raised by the state attorney general, effectively killing the bill for the year.

While supporters argue the Bible is an integral part of the state’s history, some opponents say it’s far too sacred to be trivialized like the state fruit, amphibian or rock.

Southerland cited a recent poll by Vanderbilt University that found widespread support for making the Bible the state’s official book. That survey found especially strong support for the proposal among those describing themselves as Republicans or tea party members.

Asked by the newspaper whether he can get the bill through the Judiciary Committee, Southerland said, “we’ll find out.”

Among the opponents of the bill is Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville.

“I am a Christian, but I am also a constitutionalist and a conservative,” Ramsey said in a statement last year. “It would be fiscally irresponsible to put the state in a position to have to spend tax dollars defending a largely symbolic piece of legislation.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com

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