The Advocate reports that Louisiana, the state where just 79% of students graduate from high school and the one which the National Center for Education Studies ranked as the second-worst in the country for public education in 2012, has decided to be proactive in changing its image as an illiterate, backwards place and recently voted for the state to have an official state book.
What did they choose, you wonder?
Something broad and safe like The PelicanBrief? Something sexy like Interview with the Vampire?
Maybe something topical like Twelve Years a Slave? Or somethingclassic like A Streetcar Named Desire?
House Bill 503, submitted by Republican State Rep. Thomas Carmody proclaims “there shall be an official state book” in Louisiana and “the official state book shall be the Holy Bible.”
But obviously this saw its due backlash. Democrats in the state House were immediately up in arms about how close-minded his choice of book was.
They thought the state should use a more generic Bible...
“Why not put all versions of the Bible? If there’s one, what are we saying about the rest of the people?” asked Rep. Robert Billiot, who very much meant only "rest of the Christians" with that one.
But as Carmody reminded him and us, "This is not about establishing an official religion."
However, when Rep. Ebony Woodruff tried to amend the bill to declare "all books of faith" the official state books of Louisiana, Carmody stated -- possibly while thinking of something racist -- that he would "certainly be against that amendment," and 7 of his peers agreed, voting against the proposal 8-5.
A few lone voices of sanity have spoken up though.
Rep. Barton Norton went on record saying, "I don't think that's our goal as elected officials and I don't think that's what we were sent to Baton Rouge to do. Everyone has their own different religion and who are we to make that decision for them?"
And the ACLU prepares to fight the bill, claiming that it "represents the use of religion to discriminate against Louisianians of minority faiths or who do not adhere to that particular book as part of their belief system. The bill will create more problems than it will solve by telling some Louisianians that their belief system is not full equal."
The bill will go before the full Louisiana state house later this week, where you can be assured it will most certainly take time away from much more pressing matters.
God bless Louisiana.