NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Representative Harold M. Love, Jr., (D-Nashville) is a pastor of Lee Chapel AME Church.
“The church was really a vital and vibrant part of our community, providing a place of relief, providing support for people who have issues in life,” Love said.
Although the Tennessee Supreme Court struck down the amendment in the 1970s, our constitution technically says religious officials aren’t allowed to take office in either house of the legislature.
“At that point, you start saying you cannot be the teacher in the church school or you can’t be the teacher in the faith institutions, other areas,” Love said.
But this November, that could change. Amendment 4 is set to remove the religious minister disqualification, if passed by the Tennessee constituent.
“These are what we might call opportunities to clean up what was already done but not done fully,” Love said. “In the legislature, we’ll have what we call clean up bills.”
The amendment has been a long time coming to our state. Back in 2019, Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), helped introduce the legislation.
“Rather than trying to say let’s go through everything and fix the entire constitution, it’s really hard to change our constitution, as it should be, so let’s take little bites at a time,” Pody said.
Our constitution also bars atheists and people who have fought in a duel from office, but only religious ministers are included in this amendment.
“This is the part I’d be most passionate about, and I strongly believe in standing up for my Christian values,” Pody said. “So, this was something that was important for me to address myself. Others can address any parts that they want moving forward, but this was one I’m passionate about.”
Rep. Love says it’s a good step, even if the rule isn’t really enforced.
“In the Tennessee Constitution, surely, this is something that is no longer applicable but will be an opportunity for the voters to remove the language from it,” he said.