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In news that will surprise nobody, a Republican lawmaker from Oklahoma has filed a bill to make the “Holy Bible” the “official state book.” As if the state wasn’t Christian enough already.

House Bill 3890 was filed this week by State Rep. Tammy Townley, whose own press release about the bill made it clear her only justification for doing this is that she’s part of a religious majority in her state and everyone else can shove it.

“We are people of great faith,” Townley said. “The Holy Bible is an integral part of numerous faiths and is deeply important to many Oklahomans. Even when we don’t always agree with each other, we always know that we have a foundation higher than politics that we can rely on to remain unshakeable when times are tough.”

Townley is a former owner of a Christian Bible bookstore.

Saying the Bible is a major part of “numerous faiths” and that, despite our differences, we all believe in her God makes as much sense as claiming everyone loves steak in a country with plenty of vegetarians. As just as two meat-eaters might prefer their steaks cooked differently, there are many Christians who would argue Townley’s interpretation of her holy book doesn’t match their own. They have no desire in pushing their religion on everyone else.

The bill doesn’t specify a version of the Bible. That’s important because the vagueness makes it seem less theocratic… but it’s also comical because it highlights the absurdity of calling the Bible the “official state book” when there are approximately 3984823 versions of it.

Maybe the most surprising thing about the bill is that it wasn’t already a law. I would’ve assumed Oklahoma made the Bible its state book decades ago.

In any case, none of this should even matter. There’s no reason one religion’s holy book should be designated by the state government as special. There are so many incredible authors with unique connections to Oklahoma whose works of literature would be perfect for the designation of “state book” — S.E. Hinton, Ralph Ellison, Joyce Carol Thomas — yet their works weren’t even considered.

This bill should fail. Oklahoma doesn’t need a stronger connection to Christianity. It needs far less of it.

I should say that this bill isn’t guaranteed to pass. In addition to the church/state separation problem and the symbolic middle finger it would give to non-Christians, there’s an argument to be made that treating the Bible the same way as a certain flower or tree — by giving it an “official state” designation — would minimize its importance.

TennesseeWest Virginia, MississippiLouisiana, and Texas have all tried passing similar resolutions in the past, and of them have failed despite having Republican majorities. (Alabama has a “State Bible,” though that’s not exactly a state anyone should be emulating.)

But none of that matters to Townley, who owned Living Word Bible and Gift Store for more than two decades before running for office in 2018. She won that GOP primary and general election comfortably. In 2020, when she ran for re-election, no one even bothered to put up a fight. She had no opponents in the primary or general election, so she skated to victory without having to do any work, and this is the result. If no one even tries to challenge Christian Nationalists, don’t be surprised when they push bills like this that serve no purpose.

All of this, by the way, comes on the heels of a separate bill that would allow fundamentalist Christian preachers to teach the KJV Bible in public schools and after the state’s attorney general, John O’Connor, told a friendly audience that “there’s no such thing as an ideal godless America” and that our country needed to be run under a Christian-based value system.

(Screenshot via YouTube. Portions of this article were published earlier)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.