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A mainline church in the Bible Belt

For ten years, I was the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, a Bible Belt corner of the world that's chock-full of religious right, fundamentalist congregations. Every year on the anniversary date of Roe v. Wade, a church in that community places thousands of white crosses on its front yard. Every July 4, that same church puts out thousands of American flags. In a recent sermon, its pastor announced that "homosexuals will not be allowed into heaven." The vast majority of churches in my town are kindred spirits with that congregation.


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