(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), February 5, 2013 — State Senators Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville; John Stevens, R-Huntingdon; Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet; Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey and Reginald Tate, D-Memphis have joined colleagues in the House of Representatives to form the Religious Freedom Caucus in the Tennessee General Assembly. The Tennessee Religious Freedom Caucus is the 9th state caucus in the nation organized to protect religious freedom and is affiliated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program (ARFP).
“As lawmakers, we have an important role in protecting the free exercise of religion,” stated Senator Kelsey. “The Religious Freedom Caucus will help safeguard those rights and will work to strengthen protections for the diverse faith communities in Tennessee.”
The first meeting of the group included testimony from guest speaker Tim Schultz, State Legislative Policy Director for ARFP.
“I am very pleased that we have a group of legislators that are focused on protecting and strengthening the religious freedoms guaranteed in our U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions,” said Senator Gresham. “We will stand together with our partners on the national level to guard these constitutional protections while serving in the Tennessee General Assembly.”
The ARFP and Tennessee Religious Freedom Caucus seek to combat those advocates and politicians that promote the idea religion has a negative impact on Americans’ lives. The National Board of Advisors for the ARFP includes national political figures and leaders of multiple faiths including Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Presidency of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; The Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco; John Garvey, President, The Catholic University of America; and George Wood, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God, USA.
State Representatives who are a part of the Tennessee Religious Liberty Caucus are: Representatives Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta; Rick Womick, R-Rockvale; Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville; Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma; Mark White, R-Memphis; Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville; Harold Love, D-Nashville; John DeBerry, D-Memphis and Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City.