While Texas having an official state book may seem a little like Wisconsin naming an official nonalcoholic beer and vegan goat cheese, at least the state is trying to encourage reading. Officials should probably ease into it, though. Maybe start with an official “back of a Cocoa Pebbles box” or an official misspelled, ungrammatical neck tattoo?
That’s not to say everyone in Texas is less than well-read, of course. There appear to be a lot of smart people in Austin and elsewhere—just not enough of them to keep Ted Cruz, that giant ass polyp of the Senate, from spraying his mind diarrhea over the rest of our body politic.
Of course, in our country, states have a certain degree of sovereignty, so you tend to get blatantly unconstitutional proposals—like trying to give one particular religion’s sacred text official government recognition through legislative resolutions.
According to KXAN-TV, Austin, a Texas Republican has proposed that the Lone Star State declare the Bible the lone state book.
The resolution, filed by State Rep. Glenn Rogers, (R-Brownwood), explains the Bible has served as a source of “wisdom and inspiration” for Texas historical figures like Davy Crockett and Sam Houston. HCR 11 also says 30 Texas governors have been sworn in with a Bible believed to have belonged to Houston.
“…. As a prominent element in the rich fabric of our Texas heritage, the Bible is truly deserving of such acknowledgment,” the resolution reads.
I’m not sure how making the Bible the official state book does Texans any good, of course, other than predictably driving a wedge between the state’s Christians and non-Christians. It would make a lot more sense to make the state book a manual on keeping the power grid functioning after the right-wing government has deliberately fucked it sideways. Or maybe a kids’ book on how not to crawl into the back of Cruz’s windowless white van, no matter how many Hai Karate-redolent Werther’s Originals he offers you.
Of course, even before Rogers and his ilk hear protests from their nonreligious and other non-Christian brethren, they’ll likely have to contend with some internecine Jesus-squabbling. As KXAN-TV notes, there isn’t a single widely accepted version of the Bible any more than there’s a single, universally acknowledged Rice Krispies treats recipe.
The short resolution doesn’t outline which Bible would become the state’s official book, however. Cambridge University explains 11 of the most popular versions in English include the English Standard Version, The New American Standard Bible, the New International Version (NIV), and the most popular, the King James.
How about a Bible that includes the Genesis creation story, followed by hundreds of blank pages where most of the really questionable stuff would normally be, and then just the Jesus bits? I can practically guarantee most Texas “Christians” won’t notice.
This proposal is obviously unconstitutional, of course, but given the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, it could very well stand if it were challenged. That said, only 77% of Texas adults consider themselves Christian, and according to a Pew Research survey, 18% consider themselves religiously unaffiliated.
Of course, lots of states have oodles of official “things”—birds, fish, rocks, mottos, nicknames. That said, most of these symbols, while perhaps mildly dubious in certain cases, don’t generally invite the kind of controversy that a holy book might. The one exception may be Idaho, where the official state animal is a reindeer who farts apocryphal L. Ron Hubbard quotes. (I didn’t fact check that, but it sounds about right.)
Naturally, this Bible-as-state-book charade has been tried at the state level before, because while conservatives claim to love the Constitution, it’s an open question as to whether any of them have actually read it. Just this year, Tennessee tried the same nonsense. That proposal followed Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of a similar resolution in 2016.
You may be thinking, hey, “In God We Trust” is already on our money, and Marjorie Taylor Greene is in Congress instead of strapped into a space pod racing to the surface of the sun, so what’s the harm in throwing worshipers a government-sanctioned holy bone? And, sure, if the resolution is successful, it won’t end America. It will just chip away a little bit more of what makes our country truly great.
And with everything that’s going on these days, that’s really the last thing we need, now isn’t it?
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