Hundreds of Christian conservatives gathered in the blistering heat in Nashville on Constitution Day Thursday, to rally for religious freedom in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling and called on the state to uphold its definition of marriage as being a union between one man and one woman.
As a crowd of over 400 gathered for the "Stand in the Gap for Truth" rally hosted by the Tennessee Pastors Network outside the state's Legislative Plaza, a number of issues, from the Iran deal to same-sex marriage, were discussed by prominent Evangelicals and state lawmakers.
Among the speakers who participated in the event was the husband of jailed Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, Joe Davis, the father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Rafael, Bishop E.W. Jackson and former Southern Baptists Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Dr. Richard Land.
A few Tennessee state representatives, including Republican Rep. Mark Pody who spoke at the rally, also introduced legislation Thursday called the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act" into the state legislature. The legislation, if passed, would "void" the Supreme Court's ruling in June that struck down states' ban against same-sex marriage.
The bill states: "any court decision purporting to strike down natural marriage, including (the recent Supreme Court decision) is unauthoritative, void, and of no effect."
Although it's unclear what kind of future legislation defying the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges has, considering that Davis was jailed for her refusal to issue marriage licenses in the wake of the ruling, Land told the audience that Christians need not be afraid to fight back against the court.
"The emergence of same-sex marriage as the politically correct issue of our day is a symptom, it's a symptom of the fact that our culture has been submerged in a tidal wave of moral relativism," Land, who is also the executive director of The Christian Post and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, said.
Land cited 2 Chronicles 7:14 to explain that "the uncomfortable truth of this verse is — whether America has a future worth having doesn't depend on what the non-Christians do, it depends on what the Christians do."
"What we have got to have is a revival and the word revival is an interesting word. You have to be vived before you can be revived," Land said. "All great movements of God start with God's people getting right with God. The future of our country is being decided — one life, one family, one church, one community at a time all across this country."
As Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, became the center of a national media firestorm when she was jailed for refusing to violate her faith by issuing same-sex marriage licenses with her name and title on them, rally participants called on the state to pass religious liberty protections so that public officials, business owners and other individuals are are not punished for exercising their religious belief in traditional marriage.
"We will not acquiesce, we will not go quietly into the night. We will stand for religious liberty!" Cruz yelled.
In light of Davis' refusal to back down from her religious beliefs on marriage, she has become a hero to many Christian conservatives. Before Joe Davis spoke at the rally, "Happy Birthday" was sung to honor Kim, whose birthday was also on Thursday.
"I really do appreciate each and everyone who's here today to show the support for God, first, and for me and my wife," Davis said. "I love each and every one of you. I love Tennessee and I love everybody. Y'all just keep praying for me and my wife for God to give us the strength to fight this battle until it's over with."
Land told CP after the rally that he was informed that the American Pastors Network plans to hold similar religious freedom rallies in all 50 states, with the Tennessee rally being the first.
"They are going to have one in North Carolina and one in every state," Land said. "Everybody left very encouraged."