More than 20 Knoxville-area pastors and church leaders voiced their support for the passage of Amendment 1 during a press conference Oct. 23 at West Park Baptist Church in Knoxville.
Leading the press conference were senior pastor Sam Polson of West Park Baptist; pastor Brian Truog of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Loudon; pastor Cecil Clark of True Vine Baptist Church in Knoxville; and Father John Orr, associate pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Knoxville.
Also attending the press conference were Father Adam Kane, associate pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral, and Deacon Mike Gouge of Holy Ghost.
Amendment 1 would restore the rights of Tennesseans to work through the legislative process to pass enforceable regulations on the abortion industry. In 2000 the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the Tennessee Constitution allowed for a greater right to abortion than did the federal Constitution under Roe v. Wade.
“Amendment 1 has been distorted by abortion providers, and the ads put out by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are trying to confuse the voters of Tennessee,” said Carol Zimmerman, Knox County church outreach coordinator for the Yes on 1 campaign. “We wanted to bring these leaders of the community together to speak about the importance of this amendment and clear up some of this confusion.”
Father Orr said that “it’s important for me to speak today about our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ to vote.”
“We should not be disenfranchised merely because we’ve been baptized to regard faith in our hearts,” he said. “If we have chosen our Lord Jesus Christ as our personal savior, we need to act accordingly. If we let evil triumph, because as good people we do nothing: woe to us. If we go before governors and kings and fellow citizens in the ballot box and fail to witness to them: woe to us.
“We must render an account on the last day when we stand before the judgment seat of God. Did I know the good I should have done and fail to do it? Participation in the life of society is part of our birthright in this country. We are obliged to carry the Gospel wherever we go, not to leave it in our houses of worship on Sunday morning or safeguard it in our homes. If we as citizens of this great land fail to speak up for the truth of the Gospel, the truth of life, made and given by God, woe to us.”
Father Orr said he encouraged “everybody to consider strongly the virtues required of citizens, the virtue of prudence to do the right thing, in the right time, in the right way, for the right reason. Yes on 1 is very prudent in that regard.”
Father Orr said that “it’s part of our civic responsibility to vote, and we shouldn’t just forfeit that and sit at home like couch potatoes,” and that it “requires the virtue of diligence just get off our couch and go vote.”
Father Kane said he attended the press conference in “support for life.”
“As citizens, God calls us to act in the arena of politics,” he said. “And voting for things specifically that promote life will help better regulate something that’s not regulated at all.”
Father Kane noted that abortion clinics are not required to receive health inspections, “so this is greatly important that we treat our women and people better than we treat our own animals.”
Deacon Gouge said that as humans, “all of us are made in the image of God.”
“We are a people of God, so in a sense, it doesn’t matter what particular denomination we’re from – we can together say in a very broad base of support here in Knoxville that Christians and Jews and other religions promote this gospel of life because we are made in the image of God.”
Since November 2013, Tennessee Catholic bishops and nine major denominations in the state have passed formal resolutions in support for Amendment 1, urging members to work, pray, and vote for its passage.