For immediate release | May 17, 2016

ALA applauds veto of controversial Tennessee law

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) applauds the rejection of a bill that would have made the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.

“We commend Governor Haslam for vetoing this legislation that would have codified preference for one religious tradition over others, diminishing equal recognition of all residents in Tennessee,” said Sari Feldman, ALA president. “We also thank those legislators who reconsidered their initial vote and sustained the Governor’s veto.”

Tennessee’s state constitution expressly prohibits the favoring of one religion over another, and the state’s attorney general issued an opinion that the bill likely violated both the Tennessee and U.S. Constitution.

The proposed legislation comes during a year when the Bible, for the first time, reached ALA’s Top Ten Most Challenge Books. In a letter to Governor Haslam, Feldman noted, “The Bible is available in libraries across the United States and we will protect the right of anyone who wishes to access it in our libraries, just as we will for sacred texts from other religions. Equal access and respect for diverse backgrounds are deeply held values of the American Library Association.”

ALA worked in cooperation with the Tennessee Library Association in the preparation of this letter.

Similar bills were introduced in the Louisiana and Mississippi legislatures over the past few years, but those bills did not reach the floor for a vote.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.


Megan Murray Cusick

Grassroots Specialist

American Library Association

Office for Library Advocacy (OLA)