In an unusual move for Episcopal Churches, the bishops of the three dioceses in Tennessee have issued a joint statement urging church members to vote in favor of a Constitutional Amendment in that state.
The amendment in question, Amendment #3 would change the state’s constitution to remove language about slavery and involuntary servitude. As the state itself explains the question;
“This amendment would change the current language in article I, section 33 of the Tennessee Constitution, which says that slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a person who has been duly convicted of crime, are forever prohibited in this State. The amendment would delete this current language and replace it with the following language: “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.””
Though sponsored by a Democrat, the effort has been a bipartisan one and enjoys significant support across the political spectrum. In the state Senate, only 6 ‘no” votes out of 33 Senators, with those opposed saying it is unnecessary, as the state constitution already bars slavery.
In supporting this very popular amendment, the Episcopal bishops of Tennessee are joining an already long list of civic and religious leaders who are part of the YesOn3 campaign, in calling for its passing.
The text of the bishops’ statement says;
“We, the Bishops of the three Episcopal dioceses which comprise the state of Tennessee, are all agreed that the effort to pass Amendment 3 in the November 8, 2022, election is an important step in righting a historical wrong. In the Episcopal Church, whenever we baptize new believers or renew our own baptismal vows, we promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving [our] neighbor as [ourselves]” and “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Every human being. It is our Christian faith that motivates us to support Amendment 3, believing that slavery and involuntary servitude have no place in our state. We invite the members of our Episcopal parish churches across the state to join us in supporting Amendment 3.”
It is signed by the Rt Rev Phoebe Roaf (West Tennessee), The Rt Rev John C. Bauerschmidt (Tennessee), and The Rt Rev Brian L. Cole (East Tennessee)