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Bill to make Bible Tennessee’s state book heads to governor

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CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 20: Pastor Dimas Salaberrios reads from the bible as he leads a group prayer in front of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after a mass shooting at the church killed nine people on June 20, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Suspect Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested and charged in the killing of nine people during a prayer meeting in the church, one of the nation's oldest black churches in the South. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Having already made a .50-caliber sniper gun the official state rifle, Tennessee lawmakers voted Monday to make the Holy Bible the state’s official book.

The state Senate gave final approval Monday on a 19-8 vote despite arguments the measure conflicts with a provision in the Tennessee Constitution that “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”

Republican Sen. Steve Southerland argued his bill is aimed at recognizing the Bible for its historical and cultural contributions to the state, rather than as government endorsement of religion.

Opponents argued the Bible would be trivialized by being placed alongside other state symbols like the official tree, rock or amphibian.

The measure heads to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who hasn’t said whether he’ll issue a veto.