Middle Tennessee is part of what is known as the Bible Belt. “A church on every corner” is how we are depicted. For every church, there are five associate ministers waiting to hear “the call” to start their own church or begging God that the main preacher will allow them to preach one Sunday. We have several national Christian organizations that are headquartered in Nashville: the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Baptist Convention, and the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church are just a few examples. Lifeway, RH Boyd, and the United Methodist Publishing House are Christian entities that produce church material for church folks to gain a better understanding and knowledge of God daily.
This area is home to several colleges that have Christian roots or missions: Belmont, David Lipscomb, Fisk, Meharry Medical College, Trevecca, and Vanderbilt are all titans in secondary education. These colleges have produced some of the most intelligent, nationally recognized folks, highly respected throughout the world. Many national Christian conventions are held here as well. The National Religious Broadcaster (NRB) meeting is one the most successful conventions held here annually. NRB is a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers and readers. If you want to be on television or radio and you want to call it a ministry, NRB is a conference you should attend. The Middle Tennessee area is also the number one region in the country for home school families. Many home school families cite religion as their primary reason for homeschooling. The private Christian schools in the area are too numerous to even begin to list.
With all the Christ-centered organizations mentioned above, the behaviors of some church folks are keeping Middle Tennessee in the national spotlight. The spotlight seems to say we are churchgoers who are deeply devoted to our religious beliefs but are not practicing the tenets of loving our neighbors and Christ-like acceptance of others. We are wearing hypocritical halos. I have received several calls from curious media friends from around the country asking what is happening in my beloved Volunteer State. My friends were stating that the many stories I have written about the Volunteer State’s generosity and philanthropy endeavors to those in need did not seem to be about the same state that is producing extreme, ungodly behavior towards others who are not of the Christians faith. It is a phenomenon that I am having a hard time trying to explain because I am perplexed as well.