Louisiana proposes bill to designate the Bible as The Official State Book

What is it: silly season for the First Amendment? Apparently, for according to WWLTV in New Orleans, the Louisiana legislature is considering another totally unconstitutional bill:

BATON ROUGE, La. — Lawmakers are moving ahead with a proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana’s official state book, despite concerns the bill would land the Legislature in court. A House municipal committee advanced the bill Thursday with an 8-5 vote, sending it to the full House for debate. Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, said he sponsored the proposal after a constituent made the request. But Carmody insisted the bill wasn’t designed to be a state-endorsement of Christianity or a specific religion. “It’s not to the exclusion of anyone else’s sacred literature,” he told the House committee. Again, later he said, “This is not about establishing an official religion of the state of Louisiana.”

Who is he kidding? Everyone knows that this bill is palpably unconstitutional, making a Judeo-Christian text into an official state emblem. Curiously, four of the eight voting for the bill were Democrats. As usual, the sponsors pretend this doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity:

Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, said she didn’t feel qualified to “vote on anything that’s related to the Bible,” so she voted against it. Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey, said adopting the Bible as the state’s official book could be offensive to people who live in the state and who aren’t Christian. “You’re OK with offending some of the citizens of this state?” she asked. “It’s not meant to be offensive,” Carmody replied. “There’s no requirement that they would have to follow this particular text.”

This guy is either one neuron shy of a synapse, or, more likely, he’s simply dissimulating. This stupid bill offends everyone who follows the U.S. Constitution, a group that apparently doesn’t include Carmody or many citizens of Louisiana. If they’re going to choose a version of the Bible (Carmody suggested a specific version, perhaps the King James translation), he could at least have used this one

h/t: Jarle


  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    one neuron shy of a synapse Perfect! I’m going to use that one!

    Yes, it is always silly season it seems for the south. Poor atheists and other non Christians who live there!

    • Jeffrey
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Me too. I loved it.

  2. Dominic
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Why does there have to be an official state anything? I thought the type of people who want to introduce this sort of thing were fundamentalist libertarians, so why try & impose any such thing? Oh, yes, it is because it is alright when it is THEIR views being imposed…

    Which version of the bible would it be? The Latin Vulgate?

  3. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Why is Carmody worried about heaven? Surely hell is better equipped for boiling crawfish.

  4. gbjames
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink


    • francis
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 10:02 am | Permalink


  5. Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Let’s make a counter-proposal: to name the Koran as official state book instead. Let’s see, if this is about “It’s-not-meant-to-be-offensive-there’s-no-requirement-that-they-would-have-to-follow-this-particular-text” then …

    • Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      I was thinking Gone With the Wind.

      • Linda Grilli Calhoun
        Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        Green Eggs and Ham. L

        • Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          Fun with Dick & Jane? Pat the Bunny?

          • BillyJoe
            Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

            Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

        • merilee
          Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink


  6. Sastra
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    “State book?” I’ve never heard of such a thing. State Flowers and State Songs and State Wooly Mammoths — but books? I’m curious about other examples.

    Still, the “it’s not about religion” is disgustingly disingenuous.

    Proposals like this one — in fact, all government entanglements with religion — vividly remind me of what dogs do to mark their territory. They piss on it.

    A manger scene at the city hall, the Ten Commandments at the courthouse, a School Prayer in a public elementary school, and the Bible as the official State Nook” are all piss stains saying “this is mine.” You don’t have to look at the nativity, you don’t have to follow the Decalogue, you don’t have to say the prayer, you don’t have to read the Bible. It’s a free country.

    But don’t forget whose free country it is, and whose home you are living in. Mine. I marked it here … and here … and over here. It belongs to the Christians. OUR territory.

    They’re actually trying to stink up the place.

    • Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      There are a few:

      • Sastra
        Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Interesting. So far the only Official State Books I’ve found were children’s books — Massachusett’s Make Way for Ducklings and Michigan’s The Legend of Sleeping Bear — though there’s a very confusing entry which states that Alabama’s State Bible is the state bible(?)

        Some fun at that link. Note that the official “Kentucky Science Center” is their Bourbon Festival — and their official Bourbon Festival is the Kentucky Shakespeare Fest (ok, it’s a mix up, but I still like it.) I also appreciate the fact that Oregon is the only one which has the guts to have a State Microbe (not the daring cryptosporidium, unfortunately, but the more placid saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewer’s yeast.)

        I do wonder what is holding Pennsylvania up on acknowledging the Slinky as State Toy. It’s only been proposed.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          “there’s a very confusing entry which states that Alabama’s State Bible is the state bible(?)”

          That’s probably much less offensive (and not at all paradoxical). The Official State Bible of Alabama is an individual book, kept in a museum, that has been used for swearing in every state governor since 1853.

          One could object to swearing-in on ‘the Bible’ but I don’t see any offense in designating a particular historic specimen as being the one to be used.

          That’s quite different from designating ‘the Bible’ as the state book, by the way.

    • Stan Pak
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Very good analogy and correct point.
      It is not about being offended but about marking the territory.
      (There is also nothing much to be offended of, and even so. There is no law preventing us from being offended.)
      The same happens in Poland, where crosses and pope pictures hang everywhere in public offices and school classrooms.

    • Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      What about replacing the the torch on the Statue of Liberty by a large cross? Perhaps a good idea for a cartoon.

  7. Charles Jones
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    It is amazing that anyone would want such an appallingly badly written book to be the official anything. While the King James version has a few famous poetic lines, the Bible as a whole is mind-crushingly confusing, contradictory and difficult to pin down. Just try reading it out loud to some curious kids not previously exposed to it; they will constantly interrupt to ask what a given line means, and often I have no answer.

    I vote for the collected works of Shakespeare! Or J.K. Rowling.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Yep, that’s why the four words that most frequently follow a bible verse are, “What this means is…

    • Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Indeed. One of the problems with most of the religious people I know is they only got exposed to the bible through “bible study” groups, so they only read the few poetic lines. When I was in high school I spent one summer reading the King James bible cover to cover and came away convinced that a) it wasn’t very good literature and b) I probably had no further interest in Christianity.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        I kept trying to read it cover to cover but it was so brutal that I could never finish.

        • js
          Posted April 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          That reminds me of my attempts to read James Joyces’ Ulysses.
          It had been recommended to be by a friend and over a few years I would start it and then put it down for a year or so and then try again.
          The furthest I got was the last time I tried and got to half way through.
          As I was reading I suddenly thought ‘it’s like reading gibberish’ and then realised ‘I AM reading gibberish’ and have never bothered since.
          The non-gibberish parts would good but the endless pages of broken thoughts was kind numbing.
          I have read most of his other stuff and of course read ‘The dead’ on Dr. Coyness advice and it is a wonderful story.
          I do however celebrate Bloomsday every year by buying a couple of bottles of Guinness.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

            This is how I feel about reading Moby Dick & why I refuse to read it. I avoided a whole course in school because it was on the reading list.

            • Merilee
              Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

              To get through Ulysses you gave to take a runnung start and just plough through. Such wonderful language! I got bogged down in too much cetology ( as I believe Yossarian put it in Catch-22)in Moby Dick…

              • js
                Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

                Catch-22 was one book I had been meaning to read for many years and I finally did last year. A very good read.
                It surprised me to find out after having read it and telling my friends about it that none of them realised the saying was from the book.
                A bit like ‘The bridge on the river Kwai’.
                I actually went to the bridge last year but beforehand I read the book to get a sense of it, then looked it up on Wikipedia and found out that the bridge was not built on the Kwai river at all. The author had worked on the railway as a POW in Burma and assumed that’s where the bridge would be built.
                After the war and the book and then the movie, tourists started to turn up asking where the Kwai river bridge was and were of course told that no such bridge existed.
                So the Thai government just changed the name of the river. Brilliant.

              • Merilee
                Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

                I LOVE Catch-22 ( though hated the movie). Need to reread it, but still remember many of the best lnes. Great River Kwai story! A good family friend was U.S. Ambassador to Libya just before Qaddafi. We went to visit and he had a parrot who would whistle the theme to River Kwai but would leave off the last two notes. DA da…da da da DA….Drove everyone nuts. He also did great wolf whistles, which embarassed many female guests.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

                Catch-22 is one of my favourite books. Savagely satirical, and it carries situations to their absurd and fantastic – but absolutely logical – extremes.

        • Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Diana, full confession: I sort of skipped much of the begetting stuff and only later in a college religion course (I went to a Lutheran college) learned that whenever there are two or more sets of begets, they don’t agree. And I sort of skimed Revelation. By the time I got there I was pretty fed up with it and besides, that book is just plain awful.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

            Ha ha! Genesis & revelation were the only good parts. Well, there were probably more but I missed them. I translated some Mark and Matthew in Greek class and was all surprised because I’d never read them in English.

  8. Maria
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    The LOL Cats Bible should be the Official Book of (all) the United States.

    These people are really pushing it. What is in the water down there?!

  9. JeffMoger
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I propose we stop using the term “lawmakers”, because it apparently obligates these people to spend their time coming up with stupid laws. Frankly, I thought the official fossil bill was pretty silly too. Don’t these people have real work to do?

  10. JeffMoger
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    And if there are any other lawmakers out there with nothing to do, looking to stir up a little publicity, how about a competing bill to make In Cold Blood the official state book. At least Truman Capote was born in Louisiana.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Since my knowledge of Louisiana is mostly derived from James Lee Burke’s detective fiction,I suggest one of his novels. They have a bit of religion, if that’s what politicians want,and are written a whole lot better and more convincingly than the Bible.

  11. Robert Bray
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    When a politician says ‘this is not about X,’ it generally is.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I much prefer the honesty of Sara Ebarb, the superintendent in Sabine Parish a little downriver from Shreveport. Recall the student who didn’t answer with “the Lord” on the sixth grade “science” quiz? Ebarb said something like “this is the Bible Belt. What do you expect?” Sabine Parish is now out $40,000 thanks to the student’s parents and the Louisiana ACLU. Carmondy may have learned to choose his words a little more carefully, at the expense of honesty.

  12. Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Someone almost got it,

    Rep Stephen Ortego:

    “Let’s make this more inclusive of other Christian faiths, more than just the ones that use the King James version.”


  13. Posted April 11, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    ftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftft Mayhem stepped on my keyboard and sent this.

    Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:01:36 +0000 To: t_aid@hotmail.com

    • js
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      So that’s why this page on my iPad is three times wider than normal.
      True mayhem, indeed.

      • Merilee
        Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        Pronounced phhhttt??

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Two states have an official children’s book. Massachusetts has “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey, and Michigan “The Legend of Sleeping Bear”, while six states have official poems, and a few states have official plays.

    So far none has an official book, yet.

    Alabama has an official !*state bible*! which is the specific physical one used to swear in Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy, and which has been used to swear in all subsequent governors. (I must say, the Confederacy links rankle me more than the religious ones!!!)

    Source: http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Lists/arts_culture.html

  15. Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I’m waitin’ for a fellow legislative yahoo to propose that it be the State recommended book to read while sittin’ on the shitter.

  16. Hulkamania
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    @revelmundo heh heh heh You made my day!

  17. Nathan
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    If I were in that legislature, I would try to add the word “fictional” to the bill.

  18. Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    How about this Bible? http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

    Give the people some critical thinking skills too…I mean this isn’t about religion right???

  19. Posted April 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Official state book? Fiction or non-fiction?


  20. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    They have an Official State Pie and an Official State Donut (if one of the official state cops hasn’t eaten it by now) and two Official State Jellies. So I should think the Official State Bookle would fit right in.

    Isn’t this Official State thing getting a bit ridiculous?


  21. Mark Joseph
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Simple question: with or without the apocrypha?

    (Stands back to let the protestants and the catholics kill each other for a while).

    • js
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      It was a nice surprise when I first read of the apocrypha. My thought was ‘yes, it’s all apocryphal’.
      Or as Douglas Adams writes in THHGTTG that the guide ‘contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate’.

    • Cathy Newman
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      This is what I’ve been saying ever since word of this started making its way arou d Baton Rouge last month. Do you ostracize the northern half of the state and include the Apocrypha, or ostracize the southern half of the state and omit it? Thankfully, basically no one is talking about this around town, and those who are seem to be annoyed that we are yet again the country’s laughingstock.

  22. Cathy Newman
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Commenters on this story in the local paper (the Baton Rouge Advocate) appear to generally fit into one of 3 categories: (1) This is bullshit, the bible is fiction, (2) I have nothing against the bible, but this is a lawsuit waiting to happen, or (3) Why not choose one of the great novels set in Louisiana and leave the bible for church?

    Unlike the usual phenomenon where the local paper brings out the craziest of the crazies, practically no one (vocal, anyway) seems to think this is a good idea.

  23. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Everyone knows that this bill is palpably unconstitutional, making a Judeo-Christian text into an official state emblem.

    Don’t the Muslims have a lot of respect for the Bible too? Or is that just an inconvenient fact that some Christians seem to forget. After all, since Muslims are wrong, then if they think the Bible is important, then the Bible must be wrong too.
    I think I’ve just realised what “asplode” means. I shall have to remember this argument, for malicious infliction on suitable targets.

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