Mississippi, Please Don’t Make the Bible Your Official State Book

A trio of lawmakers in Mississippi have introduced bills to make the Bible the official state book. Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

One bill is from Republican Representative Tracy Arnold, who is the pastor of a nondenominational Christian church. The other is from Democratic Representatives Tom Miles and Michael Evans, who say they have promises of bipartisan support from more than 20 colleagues.

Miles told The Associated Press on Monday he’s not trying to force religion or even reading on anyone. ”The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people,” Miles said. “They could read in there about love and compassion.”

I’m wondering if these gentlemen have actually read the Bible recently, and especially the Old Testament.

Graphic Violence in the Bible

It’s possible to debate the literary merits of the Bible, but there is no doubt that the Old Testament, particularly the books of the second section that tell the history of the Israelites, from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon, is packed with graphic violence.

Here are a couple of choice examples:

Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. … He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. (1 Samuel 15:3,8)

When the Israelite army finished chasing and killing all the men of Ai in the open fields, they went back and finished off everyone inside. So the entire population of Ai, including men and women, was wiped out that day—12,000 in all. For Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed. (Joshua 8:24-26)

The Bible as Misogynist and Anti-Gay

The infamous words “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” from Exodus 22: 18 were used by numerous so-called “witch hunters” in the 16th and 17th centuries to justify the murder of thousands of innocent women and men.

The story of women in the Bible actually begins in Genesis 2, where God says that it is not good that man should be alone, so God made a woman as a “helper suitable for him.” Of course, it is that woman, Eve, who is portrayed as weak when she is tempted by the snake; this eventually leads to the downfall of the man.

Gays are not exempt from condemnation either. The first mention in the Bible is in Genesis 19:1-13. “The wicked men of Sodom attempted a homosexual rape of two messengers from God who had come to visit Lot. As a result of this and other widespread wickedness, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in a storm of fire and brimstone.” Later, in Leviticus 18: 22, we read, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”

It’s true that the New Testament does portray Jesus Christ a a loving, caring leader, but the God of the Old Testament is vicious and merciless.

Separation of Church and State

Even if you see the Bible as a positive influence, it is after all the holy book of only one religion; doesn’t this raise questions about whether Mississippi would be violating the separation of church and state?

If the state adopts the Bible, doesn’t it also have to adopt Christianity? Isn’t that unconstitutional?

Surely anyone in the state of Mississippi who isn’t Christian will find such an action very offensive. Do these legislators even care about that?

The Literary Heritage of Mississippi

Finally, this action just seems like a slap in the face to the many fine writers that the state has produced. The state’s native writers include William Faulkner, Richard Wright, and recent U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. Why look any further?

William Faulkner, for example was a Nobel Prize-winning author who was a native of Oxford, Miss. By contrast, the Bible was written a very long time ago by men whose history has no relevance to Mississippi.

As Larry Wells, who was married to William Faulkner’s niece, Dean Faulkner Wells, before she died, expressed it:

It’s impossible to conceive of a state abandoning its literary heritage like that. What would Faulkner and [Eudora] Welty and Shelby Foote and Richard Wright think? I think they would collectively link arms and say, “Go back to kindergarten, Legislature.”

Please, Mississippi, abandon this terrible idea.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

150 comments

Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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SusanAWAY Allen
SusanAWAY Allen2 years ago

Really Ellen G.? I think we must concern ourselves with it. Mississippi doesn't exist in a bubble. If it did, fine. But it doesn't. So what happens in Mississippi affects us all in this country. Let one state do something stupid like this and it means others in other states might make the same stupid choices.

We need to do what we can to make all states somewhat the same when it comes to laws having to do with human rights, etc. We can't just have every state out there doing their own thing. We live in the UNITED States of America, otherwise, every state is its own little country, doing their own little thing. WRONG! That's not how it works. So stop thinking Mississippi lives in a little bubble, all by itself.

If that's really what you want, then secede from the the Union and stop taking handouts from the Federal Government. You, who lives in one of the poorest states in the union just need to stand on your own with your own set of rules, regulations, laws, whatever and leave the rest of us out of it. Yes, secede and see how well your people do on your own. Go ahead!

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SusanAWAY Allen
SusanAWAY Allen2 years ago

Frank S., perhaps it is you who should keep your christianity to yourself instead of trying to foist it onto everyone else around you. It's hard for most fundamentally religious people to understand that not everyone believes as you do. Imagine that.

We have a country which supposedly guarantees "freedom of religion" which also means "freedom from religion" as well. Not every religious person living in the state believes in the same form of religion that you have chosen to believe in. Other people may believe differently. Why should they have your religion thrown at them at every turn?

As far as I am concerned, I think all religious people need to keep their religion to themselves; meaning, among your family and your church and maybe your friends, but leave the rest of us out of it. If we're interested in your religion, we will ask you questions.

Why is that you believe that your form of religion is THE ONLY religion out there. Not true. Even within the christian religion, there are literally thousands and thousands of different sects. Which one is to control? Is it the group that believes the world is 6 thousand years old or is it the sect that believes in science and has no problem believing the real age of the earth? Is it the sect that believes dinosaurs walked the earth with mankind or is the sect the believes something different? Who makes these decisions?

It can't be the bible that controls because even the christians can't agree on which version of the

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Frank S.
Past Member 2 years ago

Once again the dictators of anti-Christianity dictate what people should or should not believe.

These attacks here by these anti-Christian groups based on the values and beliefs of Christianity have become common place.
These anti-Christian haters need to keep their Christophobia to themselves as THEY are the ones who have a problem understanding the beliefs of others.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Ellen Gaston
Ellen Gaston3 years ago

Another Christian hater. Unless you live in Mississippi, you shouldn't concern yourself with this matter.

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Janet B.
Janet B3 years ago

Thanks

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lori c.
lori c3 years ago

With everything going on in the world, isn't it plain enough to see that we should leave religion out of things and not force it upon people?

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jan b.
jan b3 years ago

Further-----The Biblical words were written by ancient superstitious men that Archaeology, found solid evidence in that in those times hallucinary herbs were used to bring on visions.

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jan b.
jan b3 years ago

First off, I do have some respect for the Bible because it contains a few good ideas. But it's difficult to fathom that people would take everything written as "gospel truth".

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