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Louisiana's legislature may soon decide to make a copy of the Holy Bible their official state book, should a proposed bill be passed this session.
Known as House Bill 503, the proposed legislation looks to a specific copy of the Good Book to bestow the honor of being the '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 HB 503.
"The use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized."
HB 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."
Introduced by Representative Thomas Carmody, HB 503 was pre-filed in February and then read Monday. It was referred to the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs.
The proposed legislation has stirred the ire of some groups, including the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Marjorie Esman, executive director of the Louisiana ACLU, said to local media that HB 503 would enshrine discrimination in the state government.
"And if the purpose of this bill is to say that Louisiana is not a welcoming place for anybody who doesn't have these narrow religious views, then it would accomplish that goal," said Esman.
"There are probably books in the Louisiana State Museum that contain views that don't reflect our values … So that's pretext. This is a statement of religious discrimination."
Gene Mills, Louisiana Family Forum spokesman, told WWL that he was in favor of the proposed legislation.
"They do call it a Good Book and in this case it happens to be oldest version of The Bible and the oldest book in the state of Louisiana. This is a vintage piece of history and heritage that is uniquely Louisiana's," said Mills.
"Each year we designate any number of things from trees, to birds, to fruits as state designations and I don't see how they think this brings some [undue] religious influence by recognizing the Bible in its historical capacity."