House passes resolution recognizing Christian bible as the official Arkansas book

by George Jared ([email protected]) 8,491 views 

The Arkansas House of Representatives recently passed HR 1047 recognizing the Christian Bible, in any recognized form, as the official state book. It passed without a single opposition vote, sponsor Rep. Dwight Tosh, R-Jonesboro, told Talk Business & Politics.

The resolution isn’t legally binding and was not jointly filed in the state Senate meaning officials there won’t be able to vote on it until the next legislative session, Tosh said.

“I would say a vast majority of people in the state believe the Bible is the book of truth,” Tosh said. “I was very happy the resolution passed without an opposition vote. I’ll bet nearly every home in Arkansas has a bible in it.”

American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt told Talk Business & Politics states should not endorse religious texts. His organization, based in Washington D.C., advocates for the separation of church and state at the local, state, and national level.

“It should not be the business of state government to promote one religion over another, and designating the Bible as the official state book is an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity, not to mention disrespectful to Jews, Muslims, humanists, and other non-Christians. State governments should respect religious diversity and select a book that all Arkansas citizens can be proud of,” he said.

Tosh had considered a bill to make the Bible the legal state book, but he said there were too many legal hurdles. The majority of Arkansans are of Christian faith, but he also recognized there are many in the state that don’t share that faith or any other, and it might offend them, he said.

Since he introduced the resolution, the representative has received a slew of calls from constituents and others, he said. In his own district, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, he said. The criticism he’s received have come from people in other parts of the state and country. He’s even had calls from as far away as New York. Most of the negativity has been respectful, just an honest disagreement, he said.

“The support I’ve received has been tremendous … it’s been amazing to me,” he said.

Arkansas doesn’t have an official book. Tennessee attempted to adopt a law designating the Bible as the state’s official book in 2016. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the legislation saying at the time the book is a “sacred text,” and it doesn’t need to be trivialized by a designation. West Virginia lawmakers are also considering a bill to make the Bible the official book in their state. There have been similar efforts in states such as Mississippi, Louisiana among others.

Tosh doesn’t know if he’ll push for a legal recognition in the future. It’s something he’s contemplated, but the barriers may be too great, he said.

“This book represents what we represent … the truth,” he said. “Our society is founded on Christian principles and the Bible played a major part.”