State Reps. Mark Pody and Harold Love Jr. fall on opposite sides of the political divide, but the two state lawmakers have one big thing in common: Both men rely on their faith as they shape policy at the Capitol.
Pody, R-Lebanon, said his faith as a born-again Christian influenced his bill directing Tennessee officials to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Love, D-Nashville, is an African Methodist Episcopal pastor and said he relies on his Christian beliefs when deciding what types of bills to author and when navigating relationships with colleagues, especially during tense and divisive moments at the statehouse.
From opening sessions with prayer to new laws, religion often intersects with politics and policy in the Tennessee General Assembly's work, drawing passionate discussion and even national attention. And the week-old 2016 legislative session promises to deliver more of the same.
Lawmakers will consider new bills on religion or other issues of great importance to people of faith. Abortion, new religious protections for counselors or therapists and how public schools teach about religion are among the topics. Legislation from last year's session, like the proposal to make the Bible the official state book, will likely resurface as well.