TENNESSEE DIVIDED: The Christian perspective

Feb 13, 2018

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  -- Attend a Sunday morning church service at Believer’s Chapel in Murfreesboro and you’ll be warmly greeted.

Once services get underway the music is upbeat and inspring. When Senior Pastor Barry Mershon speaks, his message is practical, positive and affirming.

David Fowler of the Tennessee Family Action Council
Credit factn.org

But dig a little deeper and you find discomfort, perhaps even fear among the congregation’s membership, and among Christians all across Middle Tennessee and the nation.

Pastor Mershon says his members often share their concerns, ranging from the threat of terrorism, to a government that no longer seems reliable, to an influx of people who are different, and the loss of a common Judeo-Christian ethic.

“It seems like, if our culture is trending the way it continues and there’s not a spiritual awakening, it seems like our culture is going to be in for some dark days,” Pastor Mershon said.

David Fowler heads the conservative Franklin based Christian advocacy group Family Action Council of Tennessee.

His concerns go even deeper, warning that Christians may soon be pushed out of the public sphere all together, no longer able to work, for example, in certain professions.

“There may a day, if we do retreat, that we find, ‘Yes, my kid will never be a psychologist, because he’s just not going to be willing to counsel people toward certain things that he believes are detrimental to them and that means that he’ll lose his license.’ So, there we go,” Mr. Fowler said.

Fowler isn’t interested in retreat. He’s a dedicated culture warrior, pushing back hard against trends conservative Christians find so distressing. He routinely testifies before the Tennessee Legislature on political hot button topics, including abortion, same sex marriage, and transgender issues.

But in spite of his concerns, Fowler says Christians should try to avoid extreme responses.

“One is being fearful and out of that responding in anger, and in intemperate ways, and the other side is to drop out. That’s not very helpful either.”

Back at Believer’s Chapel, Pastor Mershon has a slightly different take on the challenges and changes Christians find so distressing. He sees them as an opportunity.

“These are our challenges that God has given us to live for a higher kingdom than just our own particular heritage, or our own particular region where we grew up,” he said. “We are called to love one another regardless of race, or religion or whatever. And I see that as a good thing in the Body of Christ.”

This story is part of the WMOT series entitled Tennessee Divided: An exploration of the cultural, racial and political discord across Middle Tennessee and the nation. Use the links included here to explore other stories in the series.