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. 


Bolstering, Advancing, and Escalating Human Rights Day

Today, we publicly support the right for all individuals to be heard and to participate fully in their societies.

We are awestruck by our Peacemakers' in Action activism despite serious threats to their lives and liberties. We also commend our friends who vocally support and take action for interreligious respect and understanding in schools, workplaces, and health care settings.

On this day sixty-four years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration gives international and widespread “recognition of the inherent dignity – and of the equal and inalienable rights – of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

On this Human Rights Day, the United Nations is “highlighting the right to participate (in decisions that affect the community) and the associated rights that make it possible – freedom of expression and opinion, and peaceful assembly and association.”

That is why we are heeding the U.N.’s call: “International law is clear: No matter who you are, or where you live, your voice counts. On this Day, let us unite to defend your right to make it heard.”

And so, we dedicate this week’s work, particularly our World Peace Wednesday, to Human Rights Day.

In friendship,

The Tanenbaum Community