January 2023 Church & State Magazine - January 2023

Tenn. County Cites ‘Judeo-Christian’ Values In Official Document


A Christian Nationalist legal organization has advised leaders of a Tennessee county that they may cite “Judeo-Christian values” in official documents.

First Liberty wrote to officials in Sumner County in November and told them that their decision to state that the county’s actions will be “reflective of the Judeo-Christian values inherent in our nation’s founding” was legal.

Roger Byron, an attorney with the group, told The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville that he believes the preamble would survive Supreme Court scrutiny.

“When you look at the historical practices and understandings of our founding fathers, and where the county refers to Judeo-Christian values, we’re talking about the values of honesty, integrity, fair-dealing, hard-work, justice and basic morality,” Byron said. “Those values permeate our founding documents. They permeated the understandings of the founding fathers. So yes, I see what this dedication to these values is and it’s perfectly in line with established law.”

Byron added that the county need not worry about including other religions.

“We know that many of our founders were deeply committed and all of them deeply influenced by what we call Judeo-Christian values,” he said. “So, the question there would be: were they deeply influenced by Hindu values, for example? Do we find historical practices in understanding that indicate that?”

But some legal experts disputed Byron’s claims.

David Hudson, a professor at Belmont University’s College of Law, told The Tennessean the county’s declaration is a “clear violation” of the First Amendment.

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