Tanenbaum Urges Tennessee Senate to Reject Efforts to Make the Bible Tennessee’s Official State Book

The Tennessee Senate is set to vote on a bill that would make the Holy Bible Tennessee’s official book.

Speaking on behalf of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, its CEO Joyce Dubensky condemned the bill. “While the Bible is an inspiring book for many, for Tennessee to make it their state book would symbolically exclude citizens of diverse faiths and none at all, including Christians who find the bill to be sacrilegious.”

Supporters of the bill argue that the intention is to highlight the Bible’s historical significance – however many people see the bill as a violation of the separation between church and state.

Dubensky added, “An official state book is a symbol of the state and, presumably, the people within it. As such, it should inspire a cohesive identity and sense of community. Making the Bible Tennessee’s official state book would do the opposite.”

One approach that Tanenbaum proposes is to identify an official state book that is non-sectarian, inspirational and speaks to the highest ethics of all traditions. “This way,” Dubensky noted, “citizens will not feel as if their government is promoting only one group, one viewpoint within a religion or, worse, infringing on their own personal religious or non-religious beliefs.”



Tanenbaum is a secular, non-sectarian nonprofit that systematically dismantles religious prejudice by tackling religious bullying of students, harassment in workplaces and disparate health treatment for people based on their beliefs. 


World Peace Wednesdays: Meet Bill

Meet Peacemaker in Action Bill Lowrey, who worked for peace and reconciliation for the Sudanese people for over ten years as he discusses how he, as well as his colleagues, are motivated by their religion to put their lives on the line to work for peace.
For over 20 years, Sudan has been ravaged by wars that have stolen two million lives and displaced over four million people. Amid these desperate conditions, the Reverend Dr. William Lowrey fights for peace and reconciliation for the people of Sudan. His unique approach drew on the rich wisdom of the indigenous Nuer and Dinka peoples, as he integrated their traditional peacemaking methods with modern theories of conflict resolution.
Throughout most of his life, the Rev. Lowrey has been driven to combat injustice. It started with his work to promote racial reconciliation in the American South in his Mississippi church and with other social organizations. There, he honed his ability to work across cultures, and became inspired to take his peacemaking skills to work abroad.
The Rev. Lowrey first took his family to Sudan in 1991, while working with the Presbyterian Church. in 1998, he established a series of People-to-People Peace conferences through the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), which was very successful.  Although he recently took a step back from the frontlines, the Reverend Lowrey's work today is influential on a global scale. As the Director of Peacebuilding and Reconciliation at World Vision International, the Reverend Lowrey has supported and trained peacebuilders in more than 30 countries, sharing the wisdom, skills and secrets from a lifetime of religious peacemaking.
Learn more about Bill Lowrey's life as a peacemaker.

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This video was made possible by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Henry Luce Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action program is also supported by the Leir Charitable Foundations.