Republicans in Tennessee are attacking LGBT rights and equality, but members of the clergy are standing up to stop them.
Religious leaders in Tennessee, known as one of the most traditionally conservative states in America, are standing up to a multi-bill Republican assault on equal rights for LGBTQ people.
"We oppose these bills in the Tennessee General Assembly. They promote discrimination rather than justice and demean the worth of LGBTQ people in our state. We call on people of good will to join us in speaking out for basic fairness," reads the letter.
The legislation, sponsored by Republicans in the state legislature, would allow adoption agencies to deny services to same-sex couples, give companies the ability to discriminate in their health policies, give state support to schools who oppose gender-neutral bathrooms, and make it state policy to oppose same-sex marriage.
Rev. Paul Purdue of Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, told the Tennessean that he opposes the legislation and added his name to the letter because Jesus called on Christians to defend those at the margins of society.
"It's important to stand up and to call people to pay attention and to say that God loves everyone," he explained.
The religious opposition to the discriminatory bills are notable, especially since Tennessee is historically a Republican stronghold.
Republicans won statewide elections there in 2018, even as Democrats did much better across the rest of the country. In 2016, Trump won the presidential race there easily, with 60.7 percent of the vote.
But these religious leaders aren't letting politics act as their guidepost. They are making a moral case and stand, aligning themselves with liberty and freedom while the Republicans attempt to legislate in favor of hate.
In the deepest of so-called "Red America," members of the clergy are standing side-by-side to fight for what is right.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.