A proposed piece of legislation that would have made a historic copy of the Holy Bible the state book for Louisiana has been withdrawn by its sponsor.
State legislator Thomas Carmody, the Republican representative for Shreveport, announced his withdrawal of House Bill 503 on Monday during debate over the measure.
"Carmody, of Shreveport, took the microphone when House Bill 503 was announced and explained to colleagues the bill as amended by the committee could create 'a constitutional problem'," reported Nancy Cook of arklatexhomepage.com.
"In addition, he said it had 'become a distraction' from other issues the Legislature should focus on. Carmody said he submitted the bill after a constituent had requested he do so."
Carmody pre-filed H.B. 503 back in February and it was first read in March. The proposed legislation sought to make a historic copy of the Bible the official 'state book' of Louisiana.
"The official state book shall be the Holy Bible, published by Johannes Prevel, (Prevel, Jean, active 1510-1528, printer. & Petit, Jean, fl. 1492-1530.), which is the oldest edition of the Holy Bible in the Louisiana State Museum system," reads H.B. 503.
"The use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized."
H.B. 503 also proposes a state motto to be officially adopted, "A state, under God, united in purpose and ideals, confident that justice shall prevail for all of those abiding here."
Earlier this month, H.B. 503 passed the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs in a vote of 8 to 5.
"This is not about establishing an official religion of the state of Louisiana," said Carmody regarding church and state concerns over H.B. 503.
During the amending process, the bill's original intention of having the Prevel Bible as the state book was expanded to include the King James Version of the Bible in general.
"Legislators became concerned that the proposal wasn't broad enough and did not reflect the breadth of Bibles used by religious communities," reported Julia O'Donoghue of NOLA.com.
"In particular, some lawmakers worried that singling out the King James version of the Bible would not properly reflect the culture of Louisiana. The Catholic Church, for example, does not use the King James text."
H.B. 503 was officially "returned to the calendar", which means to could be brought up again later on in the legislative session.