This week’s topic is one that’s been around for as long as I can remember: separation between Church and State (Chapter 9 of our book). As the story goes, Governor Haslam was visiting a Tennessee farmers’ market and had taken time to purchase local fruits and vegetables, as his wife had instructed him to do. (He must be a smart man by listening to his wife’s wisdom!) An elderly man was patiently waiting his turn to speak to the Governor. When the man finally got to Haslam, he simply asked, “So, why did you veto the Bible?”, referencing a recent reversal of legislation by the Tennessee state house making the Bible the official state book.
Haslam outlines how our founding fathers established the First Amendment as a way that no preference would ever be given by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship. So, when the legislators created the Bible as Tennessee’s official book, they did not specify it for it’s religious significance; rather, as one with historic and economic significance.
I’m sure the press only shared one side of the story but Haslam’s explanation in his veto letter speaks about our nation’s ongoing struggle of the separation between church and state. He writes:
“If we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it as only a book of historical and economic significance. (And) 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.”
Join me this week as I’ll lead our discussions around this topic. We have Zoom option or we’re back to gather in-person in South Park. I’ll kick things off at 7:30 am in fellowship and will open up on discussion at 7:45 am.