Arkansas Has a Bible Bill

Things weren’t crazy enough when we wrote Arkansas Creationism Bill for 2017. The legislators of that state appear to be in a contest to see which of them can introduce the holiest bill.

We learned about this at the website of Christian News Network (the other CNN), which “provides up-to-date news and information affecting the body of Christ worldwide from an uncompromising Biblical worldview.” Their headline is Arkansas Rep. Introduces Resolution to Make Bible State Book. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A Republican representative in Arkansas has introduced a bill to make the Bible the state book. Rep. Dwight Tosh, R-Jonesboro, presented H.R. 1047 on Monday, and the Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs Committee advanced the resolution on Wednesday.

The article is dated 11 March, so they’re probably saying this happened last Wednesday. Here’s a link to the bill: HR 1047. It’s not very long, so we’ll give you the whole thing, in all its brilliance:

HOUSE RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE DESIGNATION OF THE BIBLE AS THE STATE BOOK.

Subtitle SUPPORTING THE DESIGNATION OF THE BIBLE AS THE STATE BOOK.

WHEREAS, the Bible is considered by many to be a book of truth; and

WHEREAS, the system of law contained within the Bible forms the basis upon which our modern civilization is structured; and

WHEREAS, there are multiple designated state symbols in Arkansas, but there is currently no designated state book; and

WHEREAS, the Bible is widely read throughout the State of Arkansas,

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:

THAT the House of Representatives supports the naming of the Bible, published in any recognized version, as the official book of the State of Arkansas.

Isn’t that wonderful? We’ve written about some previous attempts to do the same thing in other states — see Louisiana’s Bible Bill (which the bill’s sponsor later withdrew), and also Mississippi Has Two Proposed Bible Bills (they didn’t pass), and also Bible — Official State Book of Tennessee? That one passed the legislature, but the governor vetoed it because it wasn’t sufficiently respectful of the bible, and the legislature failed to override the veto — see Tennessee Bible Bill Veto Override Vote Today.

Now it’s Arkansas’ turn. Let’s return to the Christian News Network, which tells us:

Public reaction to the proposal, which now heads to the full House, is mixed. “It would be awesome! A true book to live by. Words that are living and creating life and healing, and most of all salvation,” one commenter [sic] wrote.

“Yes. It should be taught in school. When I was in grade school we had two missionary ladies that came once a month and taught from the Bible. If you had your Bible verse memorized, [you] got a small Gideon Bible. No kids caused trouble and were taught respect,” another said.

“Why would we need to have the Bible as a state book? Why stir up an unnecessary controversy?” a third asked. “Christians and Jews will always cherish the Bible. Some will always hate the mention of it. Arkansas doesn’t need a state book.”

“It doesn’t have anything to do with government; keep it out! Keep the church and state separate, or you’re unAmerican,” another wrote.

That’s about all they have to say. This is the legislature’s page for the bill’s sponsor: Dwight Tosh. He’s a retired Arkansas State Police Captain.

You can follow the progress of the bill here: HR1047. We’re not sure of the terminology, but it seems to have been passed by a House committee. The next step would be a vote by the entire House. However, according to our information, the legislature has already adjourned, so we don’t understand what’s going on. It’ll get clarified in due course.

By the way, we didn’t see any discussion of the Constitutionality of such a bill. The Arkansas Constitution says, in Article II, Declaration of Rights, Section 24:

Religious liberty. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship, above any other.

Does that mean anything? Who knows? The state Constitution also says, in Article 19, Miscellaneous Provisions, Section 1:

No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

Hey — if it’s okay to make the bible the state book, we suggest that they go all the way. One of those brave lawmakers should introduce a resolution declaring Yahweh to be the state deity.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Arkansas Has a Bible Bill

  1. Derek Freyberg

    Even if the AR State Constitution still requires belief in a God to testify, etc., I believe there is a US Supreme Court case that says that such provisions are unenforceable, though I do not recall the case.

  2. Derek Freyberg says: “I believe there is a US Supreme Court case that says that such provisions are unenforceable”

    Probably Torcaso v. Watkins.

  3. Michael Fugate

    Anyone else consider the reasoning weak and slapdash? It’s widely read? Is it understood? I mean, has the author read Leviticus and Deuteronomy and found much resemblance to law in western civilization?

  4. Ross Cameron

    Which version of the bible will be nominated? I bet the KJV gets the nod, regardless of its defects. But then again, maybe other denominations have their favourite so it might be a fight to the —um—death.

  5. Dave Luckett

    Between the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a Religion”) and the Supremacy clause of the Constitution, surely even the Arkansas legislature understands that they can’t actually do this? That this resolution, if adopted, is simply null and void the moment someone with standing brings suit? And that the costs in any such suit will be against the State?

    So why on earth are they being allowed to place this useless burden on the taxpayers of the Great State of Arrrrghkansas, er, Arkansas?

  6. @Dave Luckett
    Why are they allowed? Because it is the sort of thing which appeals to their constituents. The real puzzle is why should the will of the majority not prevail?

  7. “WHEREAS, the system of law contained within the Bible forms the basis upon which our modern civilization is structured”; in Numbers 15:32-36, a man is put to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath; the penalty is decided by retroactive legislation. Is this the system Arkansas has in mind?

  8. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
    A man’s property, e.g. his wife, servant, ox, donkey.

  9. An imaginary Twilight Zone Episode:

    An asteroid strike has crippled technological civilization world wide, and the ragtag remnants of Arkansas’ population are faced with the challenges of survival and rebuilding.

    They are faced with a choice of two books, their Holy State Book, the Bible, or a beat-up copy of the 1801 Encyclopedia Britannica.

    Which will they choose?

  10. Ceteris Paribus

    Wall, all’s I knows is they are welcome to keep both of them books. Just so long’s as they are deposited in the same liebary in order to keep the cost down.

  11. WHEREAS, the Bible is considered by many to be a book of truth; and

    WHEREAS, these many are clearly out of their mind;

    THEREFORE, be it resolved that they can request a state-sponsored straitjacket.

  12. I saw a meme recently that posed a good question: “Would you allow a robot in your house that would enforce everything from the Bible?”
    It is easy to see how such a scenario would probably end up killing its host in short order.
    This brings me to my question: once it becomes the state book can you blame people (and hold them criminally and civilly accountable) who follow its tenets, even when this runs afoul of the law?

  13. I live in Europe. We have several robots in the house that try to enforce everything from the Quran.

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