Bill To Ensure Religious Freedom Protections For Tennessee Clergy Passes Committee, Heads To Senate Floor

Image: Senator Mark Pody Image Credit:

The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

A bill that ensures that the religious freedom for clergy is protected in Tennessee passed the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday afternoon and will now head to the Senate floor for discussion and a final vote.


Senate Bill 0596 (SB0596) sponsored by Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon-District 17) and corresponding House Bill 0878 (HB0878) by Representative Monty Fritts (R-Kingston-District 32) was first introduced in the Senate last year before being deferred to this year’s legislative session. The bill was voted on by the House last March where it passed 74 to 22 with all No votes coming from Democrat members.

Yesterday’s vote yielded seven in favor, with all Republican Senators on the committee — Todd Gardenhire, Jon Lundberg, Kerry Roberts, Paul Rose, John Stevens, Brent Taylor, and Dawn White — all voting Yes and two Nays from Democrat Senators Sara Kyle and London Lamar.


As reported last year, the proposed legislation provides protection for all individuals within the state from being made to perform wedding ceremonies if they have objections to the marriage based on conscience or religious beliefs.

Last year, Fritts explained the need for such a law saying, “for many, marriage is a religious right or sacrament, and officiants are held responsible before God for the marriages they perform. As societal views change about what constitutes a marriage, officiants must be able to refuse to solemnize marriages that are contrary to their beliefs.”

The bill also protects civil servants that may object to performing a marriage ceremony if they feel the marriage violates their conscience.

Fritts gave an example last year in which he described a marriage that is predatory in nature. In his research, Fritts said this is becoming more common in elder abuse cases.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. 

You can reach Paula at

One thought on “Bill To Ensure Religious Freedom Protections For Tennessee Clergy Passes Committee, Heads To Senate Floor

  • February 7, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    I disagree with this bill for the simple reason it is far too narrow. Anyone should be able to refuse to do business with anyone else without legal consequences. If a he, she, it, demands I use some other gender pronoun, I don’t argue or complain, I simply walk away. If I refuse to hire a dude or dudette that doesn’t meet my standards in dress or appearance, it is my right and the ACLU can kiss my keister.


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