Amendment would allow religious leaders to stand for election

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr., (D-Nashville) is a pastor at Lee Chapel AME Church.

“The church was truly a vital and vibrant part of our community, providing a place of relief, providing support for people who are having problems in life,” Love said.

Although the Tennessee Supreme Court struck down the amendment in the 1970s, our constitution technically says that religious leaders are not allowed to serve in either house of the legislature.

“At that point you start saying you can’t be the teacher in the church school or you can’t be the teacher in faith-based institutions, in other areas,” Love said.

But this November, that could change. Amendment 4 would remove the religious minister disqualification, if passed by the Tennessee voter.

“These are what we might call opportunities to clean up what’s already been done but not completely,” Love said. “In the legislature, we will have what we call cleanup bills.”

The amendment took a long time to arrive in our state. In 2019, Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) helped introduce the legislation.

“Rather than trying to say, let’s look at everything and fix the whole constitution, it’s really hard to change our constitution, as it should be, so let’s take small bites at a time,” Pody said.

Our constitution also bans atheists and people who have fought a duel, but only religious ministers are included in this amendment.

“That’s the part I would be most excited about, and I strongly believe in standing up for my Christian values,” Pody said. “So that was something that was important for me to address. Others can address all the parts they want to push forward, but this was the one I was passionate about.

Rep Love says it’s a good step, even if the rule isn’t really enforced.

“In the Tennessee Constitution, that’s surely something that’s no longer enforceable but will be an opportunity for voters to take the language out of it,” he said.


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