Lawmakers in Louisiana have voted in favour of the Bible becoming the state's official book, despite allegations that it would offend and alienate non-Christian citizens.
Republican representative for Shreveport Thomas Carondy proposed the initial legislation which states that "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".
The precise nature of this requirement was criticised however, and the bill has thus been changed to propose more generally that the King James Version is used instead.
According to the Associated Press, Carondy assured the House committee during the vote that the proposed bill is not intended to offend anyone, or to impose Christianity upon non-believers.
"It's not to the exclusion of anyone else's sacred literature. This is not about establishing an official religion of the state of Louisiana," he declared.
"It's not meant to be offensive. There's no requirement that [citizens] would have to follow this particular text."
His argument was apparently persuasive, as the committee voted to advance the bill with an 8-5 majority and the legislation will now go forward to be debated before the full House.
Those that voted against the proposal, however, say that the bill will likely cause significant contention and could even result in lawful action against the committee.
"I think we're going to open ourselves up to a lawsuit," warned Wesley Bishop, Democratic representative for New Orleans who said he would personally enjoy the Bible being the state book, but couldn't agree to it in his position as a lawyer.
"You can't adopt the Bible and not adopt Christianity," he reasoned. "I am so bothered by this bill that I just called my pastor. My pastor just said that he thinks we are going to have a legal problem."