14 DoES JESUS REALLY LoVE ME?
that war, more battles were ought here than in any state save Vir-ginia. Then came Jim Crow, and the Scopes Trial, and tussles overwomen’s surage and civil rights.In each case, aith came into play. “You can’t do anything herewithout involving the church,” says Chris Sanders, who leads theNashville chapter o the Tennessee Equality Project. “You just can’t.”(Sanders’s brand o church: Episcopal.) Indeed, this city is totallychurchy. Several major Protestant denominations call Nashvillehome, including the United Methodist Church, the Arican Meth-odist Episcopal Church, the National Baptist Convention, and theSouthern Baptist Convention. Nashville is also the capital o Chris-tian culture in America. Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Chris-tian publisher, is based in Nashville, as are the Gideons, the hotelroom Bible supplier. Word Music, the world’s number one gospelrecording house, is headquartered here, as is TBN, the world’s big-gest Christian broadcaster, and Salem Communications, America’stop Christian radio network. As the T-shirts I nd in one souvenirshop testiy, Nashville is the Protestant Vatican.I land in Nashville at a contentious moment. The previous De-cember, Belmont University, a private Christian institution in town,ousted its varsity-soccer coach, Lisa Howe, ater she came out toher players and told them that her partner, Wendy Holleman, waspregnant. The uror over Howe’s orced resignation inspired theDavidson County Council, which oversees Nashville, to orbid thelocal government rom contracting with any company or organiza-tion that discriminates based on sexual orientation. This decisionwas too much or conservative state legislators, who responded witha bill prohibiting local antidiscrimination ordinances that are stricterthan statewide law. When I visit, they are in the midst o debatingan encore, a proposal to restrict schoolteachers rom speaking about homosexuality in class. (Opponents dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay”bill.)But here’s the truth o why I’ve come to Nashville: I spent mucho my childhood in Southern Baptist churches, using Sunday school
DJRLM_ab_i_xii_1_353.indd 141/14/13 3:45 PM