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Vote Yes on 4: Let Clergy Serve in the State General Assembly

This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley MD, whose district includes Giles and five other area counties.

The 4th and final constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot would remove an antiquated, unconstitutional and unenforced ban on clergy serving in the General Assembly.

I urge voters to cast a “yes” vote on this amendment to officially repeal the ban.

The amendment would delete article IX, section I of the Tennessee Constitution, which prohibits ministers of the gospel and priests of any denomination from holding a seat in either the House or Senate.

Banning clergy from serving in state legislatures was a trend in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. But by 1880, most of the 13 states with these bans had dropped the statutes from their constitutions.

Tennessee’s ban on clergy serving in the General Assembly is the last of its kind in the country.

And , in 1978, the Supreme Court found the prohibition unconstitutional in McDaniel v. Paty. The ban has not been enforced for more than four decades, but the constitutional language remains.

It’s time to amend Tennessee’s constitution to reflect the Supreme Court’s ruling and align with all other states.

Furthermore, clergy members are a great fit for public service, and Tennessee greatly benefits from their service in both the Senate and House.

These members are principled and steadfast community leaders whose service to their religious community has certainly enhanced their service to the state.

Two things must happen for an amendment to pass and become part of the Constitution.

The first is the amendment must get more yes votes than no votes. The second is that the yes votes must be a majority of the total votes in the gubernatorial election.

To be sure you can vote for this important initiative make sure you are registered to vote. You can register online at the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Website or by mail. You can also check your voter registration status online if you are unsure.

Future constitutional amendments being considered by the General Assembly

Another constitutional amendment that would allow the state of Tennessee to invest state funds in equities is being considered by the General Assembly and may appear on the 2026 ballot.

This amendment would allow Tennessee to expand its investment opportunities and maximize the value of revenues from Tennessee taxpayers.

Currently, the Tennessee Constitution prohibits the state from investing in stocks or funds, and only allows it to invest its funds in debt instruments, such as U.S. bonds, notes and treasury bills. This amendment is needed to recognize greater returns on investment of taxpayer dollars.

The General Assembly during the 2022 legislative session passed a resolution to add this amendment to the state constitution.

The resolution will now need to pass by a two-thirds majority again in the 113th or 114th General Assemblies, to appear on the ballot for a statewide referendum in November 2026. The amendment would become part of the state constitution if adopted by a majority vote in the governor’s election.

Under conservative leadership, Tennessee ranks top in the nation in fiscal management and maintains a AAA bond rating. This amendment would continue Tennessee’s record of strong fiscal responsibility.

Sen. Hensley may be reached at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, or at 615-741-3100, toll-free at 1-800-449-8366, ext. 13100 or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald ,TN 38462, by telephone at 931-796-2018, by cell phone at 931-212-8823 or by E-mail:

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