Some faith leaders are taking aim at six controversial bills they believe will demean the LGBTQ community. More than 115 faith leaders of various denominations have signed a statement by the Tennessee Equality Project opposing the bills.

Driving by the Belmont United Methodist Church, there's no question of the church's support of the LGBTQ community. A rainbow flag waves from their sign. Chalk rainbow drawings and messages surround the sanctuary reading 'You Are Welcome Here'.

"That's really what it's about is standing with people," said Pastor Paul Purdue.

Purdue is one of the more than 115 Tennessee faith leaders to sign this statement:

"As leaders of faith communities 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."

One bill sponsored by Sen. Mark Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton calls for the state to defend marriage as only being between a man and a woman.

Sexton did not return requests for comment by news time while a representative for Pody said the senator was not available to speak Tuesday. 

"When you begin to classify and alienate and deny basic rights to people, basic human rights to people, that's unjust," said Purdue. "We need to speak out against it."

Another of the six bills by various sponsors would allow adoption agencies to deny service to couples on religious grounds. Another bill calls for tougher punishment for indecent exposure in locker rooms and restrooms if the offender is of the opposite sex. Critics of the bill claim it's targeting the transgender community for using locker rooms and restrooms. 

"This idea we have that faith shouldn't inform action is wrong because justice is definitely part of the Biblical tradition," said Purdue. 

To see a list of the faith leaders opposing the legislation and a list of the bills, click here.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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