TN Pastors Lament Legislation Giving Book Banning Power to Textbook Commission

Advocate Andy

Southern Christian Coalition calls for veto by Gov. Lee

On the heels of the Tennessee General Assembly's passage of legislation that would give a state level, politically appointed committee of 12 individuals authority over whether books should be banned from Tennessee public school libraries, pastors affiliated with the Southern Christian Coalition called on Gov. Bill Lee to vote the measure.

Members of the group participated in a press conference on Wednesday in which they stated their opposition to the bill and then issued statements following final passage on Thursday.

“This bill headed to Governor Lee’s desk to become a law is a shameless and blatant attempt to grab more power and silence diverse perspectives,” said Rev. Dr. Kevin Riggs, Pastor of Franklin Community Church. “Our students deserve to read books that reflect their true selves. Giving power to a politically appointed board of just 12 members who would have control over professionally trained librarians is not only a burden to our libraries and public schools but is also a dangerous silencing of perspectives and voices. As Christians we should never fear the truth. Not only did Jesus tell us the truth would set us free, but he also commanded His disciples to not fear. Creating legislation out of fear of exposing our students to the truth about history is the opposite of what we should do as Christians. We are called to be people of truth and justice, and this law is contrary to both of these values.”

“No matter our color, background, or zip code, we want our children to have an education that imparts honesty about who we are, integrity in how we treat others, and courage to do what’s right,” said Rev. Matt Steinhauer, recently retired Pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. “If we want Tennessee to become competitive nationwide in our education standards and achievements, we absolutely must be a state where we respect and support each other across our differences and shouldn’t allow a small group of political appointees to define what follows the definition of ‘obscenity’ instead of trusting our librarians, who are professional experts in their field."

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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