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How The Bible Has Contributed To the History Of Tennessee

In Tennessee, the state legislature has passed legislation declaring the Christian Bible to be the official state book. The legislation is clearly unconstitutional, not simply as a violation of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, which applies to all levels of government in the United States, but also as a violation of the state constitution of Tennessee, which declares that, “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”

It’s no surprise that Southern Christians would seek to use the power of government to elevate their religion above all others. Unfortunately, this happens all the time. What’s curious is the justification of historical relevance for the bill. ABC News says that the legislation’s author, State Senator Steve Southerland, “bill is aimed at recognizing the Bible for its historical and cultural contributions to the state”.

The historical contributions of the Christian Bible to the state of Tennessee?

To be honest, it sounded like a ludicrous idea to me. After all, the Christian Bible is a religious text, not an historical one, and even the history that it purports to report took place in Asia, Europe, and Africa, not in Tennessee.

But then, I ran across this passage from Leviticus: “You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.”

Exodus also supports slavery: “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.”

The New Testament also instructed Christians to support slavery: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear.”

Jesus himself is described in the Christian Bible as telling his followers that it’s only natural for people to be beaten when they don’t obey their masters. “The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.”

Tennessee, as we all know, was part of the Confederate States of America, which was formed in order to maintain the legal right for rich people to own other human beings as slaves. Slaves in Tennessee were treated horribly, just as Jesus said they ought to be. It’s right there in the Christian Bible.

So, I suppose that recognizing the historical influence of the Christian Bible in Tennessee makes some sense. Yet, by making the Christian Bible the official state book of Tennessee, lawmakers there are praising the pro-slavery heritage of the book, not deploring it.

The Governor of Tennessee still has the power to veto the Bible legislation. Do you think he’ll do it?

confederate tennessee bible history

10 thoughts on “How The Bible Has Contributed To the History Of Tennessee”

  1. ella says:

    “The legislation is clearly unconstitutional, not simply as a violation of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, ” Peregrin Wood

    No, it does not. In fact to deny a state the right to declare a state book, would be the same as to deny it the right to declare a state bird, or state flower. Image, a state declares the Poppy, the source of an illegal drug, unconstitutional. It is an “illegal drug flower”. The Bible is the worlds greatest piece of literature and by many considered no more than that. It is you personal view that is in the way here.

  2. Charles Manning says:

    I appreciate the citations, which those who think the Bible is the “word of God” want to ignore. But you say, “Slaves in Tennessee were treated horribly, just as Jesus said they ought to be. It’s right there in the Christian Bible.” Where does the Bible have Jesus saying that? This is of some importance to me, because although I don’t call myself a Christian, I do adhere to moral principles that Christ is quoted as advocating — forgiveness, giving to the poor, casting the first stone, loving your enemy, turning the other cheek, making swords into plowshares, etc. — which many Christians seem to reject.

    1. J Clifford says:

      It’s right there in the quote from Jesus in the Gospel according to Luke, where Jesus warns that people should expect to be severely punished by God if they fail to obey, just as “The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.”

      Jesus was, according to the Bible, big into severe punishments, like throwing people into lakes of fire for the crime of not following his religion.

      1. ella says:

        You are really into it this morning J Clifford. The destruction of followers of the Anti-Christ and Lucifer (as he is sometimes called), is because they rebelled against and sought war with God and still do. That is simply ending all war. In this case once and for all. Or at least that is the way it is supposed to work. When no one ever breaks the laws, no one wants or needs to go to war. Then ll is provided for those who followed the ways of God.

        Slavery is as old as mankind almost. Every race on the planet has been bonded in slavery at one time or another. No one race has the rights to that position in life. And if a slave refuses to do as the “master” asks, then of what use is the slave? Hence punishment. Some people have sold their children and families into slavery, as in the west coast of Africa did. Others sold themselves into slavery, as in the east coast of Africa. Slaves were made of captives of war, as in the Israelite’s. Chinese families sent their relatives to the west coast of America. And Englishmen both volunteered and were forced into slavery, some were criminals sent to settle new lands.

        1. Wayne says:

          Are you trying to justify slavery? Because that is what I got out of your words. Essentially, you are saying that since slavery has been around since the dawn of man, who are we to condemn it? Jesus didn’t condemn it and basically gave the masters the go ahead to punish as necessary.

          Yes, slavery has been around since the beginning and there are millions of slaves yet today. But I can see no justifiable reason to condone it, explain it away or to celebrate it. We as a nation are much better off without it and should continue the fight against it and anyone that supports it. Regardless of what any religious text has say.

          How divinely inspired is a book that condones enslaving your fellow man? That is a god and religion that we can do without.

          1. ella says:

            Jesus did not condone slavery, He simply related to the time and place he lived in. Unfortunately much of the middle east and Africa still practice the slave trade openly. Jews are patently against slavery, as are Christians. Even though slavery, as such, existed in the Jewish nation at the time of Christ, you should know that it only lasted no more than 7 years, at the most. Many of the slaves were people who had no form of making a living, and so they found a landowner who needed help and offered for the position, so to speak. They have an intricate system of taking care of all of the people.

  3. Korky Day says:

    The Bible can be thanked also for contributing to the oppression of women in Tennessee!

    1. ella says:

      Korky day, I don’t have the Book with me right now, but if you will remember, Jesus had many women disciples and they taught during and after his ministry.
      The only reference that I can think of that so many churches misrepresent, is in the Garden of Eden when God said that Eve would be subject to Adam. Eve did not lie, nor did she try to deceive, she simply said what happened, while Adam blamed her for his not doing as he was told by God. Still Adam did know it was wrong, and Eve was deceived. But I don’t see where that telling was to blame for any mistreatment of women today, so you must be thinking of something else.

      1. Korky Day says:

        To ‘ella’:

        1. When a man sells his daughter as a slave [or concubine], she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.
        —Exodus 21:7.

        2. [When you fail to prove fidelity, the Lord] makes your womb miscarry. —Numbers 5:11-21.

        3. If . . . evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then . . . the men . . . shall stone her to death.
        —Deuteronomy 22:20-21.

        4. A bastard shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation shall none of his enter. —Deuteronomy 23:2.

        5. If two Israelite men get into a fight and the wife of one tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, you must cut off her hand. Show her no pity. —Deuteronomy 25:11-12.

        6. [As allowed by the Lord,] they are gathering and dividing the plunder—a girl or two for each man to rape! —Judges 5:30.

        7. Their infants also will be dashed in pieces before their eyes. Their houses will be ransacked, and their wives raped. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them. —The Lord to Isaiah 13:16-17.

        8. Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. —1 Corinthians 11:14-15.

        9. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. —Ephesians 5:22.

        10. I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent.
        —1 Timothy 2:12.

  4. Korky Day says:

    J Clifford, it is customary to cite chapter and verse when quoting the Bible.
    Charles Manning, I think, and I would appreciate more than just ‘Luke’.

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