Will the Bible become the official state book of Mississippi?
What do milk, the bottlenose dolphin, petrified wood and the Bible have in common? If two Mississippi legislators get their way, they’ll all be official symbols of the Magnolia State.
Democrats Tom Miles and Michael Evans, members of the Mississippi House of Representatives, are proposing a bill that would make the Bible the state book, joining the state’s official beverage, water mammal and stone as official state symbols.
Evans, a Baptist, told the website AL.com that the Good Book could be a cure for “all the things going wrong in the world.” “Me and my constituents, we were talking about it and one of them made a comment that people ought to start reading the Bible,” he said, noting that Mississippians would not be legally required to read it.
A Louisiana lawmaker tried to make the Bible that state’s official book last year, but ended up pulling the bill.
The Associated Press notes that Miles and Evans’ bill is one of two this session that would make the Bible the official book of Mississippi. The other measure is being sponsored by Republican Rep. Tracy Arnold.
Not everyone is happy with the idea. Lawrence Wells, publisher of Yoknapatawpha Press in Oxford, Miss., slammed the proposal to the Associated Press: “It’s impossible to conceive of a state abandoning its literary heritage like that. What would [William] Faulkner and [Eudora] Welty and Shelby Foote and Richard Wright think? I think they would collectively link arms and say, ‘Go back to kindergarten, Legislature.’” (Wells is the widower of Dean Faulkner Wells, William Faulkner’s niece.)
Although state symbols are common (Did you know California has an official state fife and drum band?) official books are rare. Massachusetts has an official state children’s book (“Make Way for Ducklings”) and an official state children’s author (Dr. Seuss), but a 2007 effort to make “Moby-Dick” the official book of the state never managed to get off the ground.
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