In Tennessee, is the Bible up there with 'Rocky Top,' salamanders and tulip poplars?

The Bible is making headlines in the Bible Belt.

In Tennessee, lawmakers are debating whether to make the Holy Bible the official state book.

And what a fun discussion it is:

A bill to make the Bible the official book of Tennessee isn't very "respectful" in the view of Gov. Bill Haslam.
The Tennessee Attorney General also thinks the bill, set for a vote Tuesday morning in the House, may be unconstitutional.
"The governor doesn't think it's very respectful of what the Bible is," said David Smith, a Haslam spokesman.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of an opinion from Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The AP writes that Slatery believes the bill would violate separation of church and state provisions in the federal and state constitutions.
Slatery's office hadn't widely released the opinion as of Monday evening.
Haslam, who is an elder at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, echoes concerns of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and other legislative leaders about the bill. Ramsey and Norris said they revere the Bible, but they thought including it in the list of official state items along with the catfish and "Rocky Top" is offensive.
"I mean the Bible is my official book, it is. It shouldn't be put in the Blue Book with 'Rocky Top,' salamanders and tulip poplars. I'm sorry; it just shouldn't," Ramsey recently told reporters.

Can we go ahead and nominate Ramsey for "Quote of the Year?"

But concerning media coverage: The Tennessean seems to be doing a nice job reflecting the voices for and against the bill.

The latest news:

The Holy Bible is the official book of Tennessee in the view of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Despite questions of constitutionality, lawmakers beat back an attempt to make Andrew Jackson's Bible the official book and voted 55-38 in favor of Rep. Jerry Sexton's original bill.

"History's going to tell us where we stand on this. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to have the side that I'm on," said Sexton, R-Bean Station, after the vote.

"It may be kind to me in the future and it may not be kind, and that's OK. I made a decision for today and I feel good about it."

Although a GOP-led effort, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, was one of 20 Republicans to vote against the measure. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, and four Republicans abstained. Only six Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, suggested making Jackson's Bible the official state book. He thought the move would have shifted the bill into safer legal waters, noting Attorney General Herbert Slatery's opinion that making the Bible the official state bookwould violate the state and federal constitutions.

Reps. Matthew and Timothy Hill, brothers and Republicans, questioned why Ragan chose Jackson's Bible. Matthew Hill asked why not Elvis' Bible; Timothy Hill asked why not consider Davy Crockett's Bible.

If a reporter just listens to both sides and reports what they say, this is one of those stories that almost writes itself — and, in the process, makes for pretty entertaining reading.

We've said it before, but we might as well say it again: The Godbeat ain't ever boring. Right, Rocky Top readers?

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