Tennessee Independent Baptists for Religious Liberty Executive Director Aaron Snodderly on Upcoming Event at the State Capitol and Fighting for Religious Liberty
Live from Music Row, Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the executive director of Tennessee Independent Baptists for Religious Liberty, Aaron Snodderly in studio to talk about its upcoming event at the State Capitol and fighting for religious liberty.
Leahy: In studio by Aaron Snodderly, the executive director of Tennessee Independent Baptists for Religious Liberty. Aaron, you’ve got a big event coming up this week. Tell us about it.
Snodderly: Yes, sir. Thank you for having me, Mr. Leahy. We’re having our Pastors and Christians Day on Capitol Hill. That will be this Tuesday, February 28th. And we’ll meet at 9:00 a.m. inside the House chamber there on the second floor of the State Capitol. And we’ll have a legislative report. We’ll have a challenge from a local pastor and that sort of thing.
And then we’ll go out and pray with our politicians and encourage them to vote for our legislative agenda. The purpose of the event is not to harass anyone. It’s not to try to pick it or be antagonistic towards politicians with whom we disagree, but rather just to be there to encourage them and love on them and let them know that we love them and Jesus loves them. But we still would like for them to vote for our legislative agenda.
Leahy: Even people that have a different point of view.
Snodderly: Even people that have a different point of view.
Leahy: And you’re nice to them?
Snodderly: Well, we try to be. Yes, sir. As best we can.
Leahy: You pray for them?
Snodderly: We do.
Leahy: You pray for them to see the light? (Chuckles)
Snodderly: We do. Yes, sir.
Leahy: You need to do a lot of praying for some legislators.
Snodderly: That’s right.
Leahy: So, tell us about your legislative agenda.
Snodderly: We support the gender mutilation bill that was voted on yesterday and actually passed the House. We support the Trans-Bill. We’re opposing the abortion bill that would make exceptions for abortion. We believe there should be no exception for abortion, period. And so those are some of the things and social issues.
There are a few religious issues that might come up that we’ll deal with. In the past, we were the big sponsors and promoters of the church bill that would give churches the right to meet and continue to have services even during the time of a national emergency such as COVID. And it would prohibit the governor from trying to shut us down, which thankfully he never did but…
Leahy: The governor of California did.
Snodderly: The governor of California did. And he and I actually talked about that in September of 2020.
Leahy: Whoah. Whoah. Whoah. Did you like face-to-face talk with Gavin, I’ve got beautiful hair, Newsom.
Snodderly: No, sir. But he gave me about seven minutes on the telephone, and we talked about it because I work as a lobbyist too on behalf of religious freedom issues. And I have a father who pastors in California.
Leahy: You have a who pastors in California?
Snodderly: Near San Francisco.
Leahy: I know where Vacaville is.
Snodderly: Yes, sir.
Leahy: Yes, because I lived in the Bay Area. I lived in Palo Alto. I lived in San Mateo.
Snodderly: Beautiful country.
Leahy: It used to be a great place to live.
Snodderly: Yes, sir.
Leahy: But he’s not from there, is he?
Snodderly: No, sir.
Leahy: He went on a missionary trip out there, right?
Leahy: So when you’re talking with Gavin Newsom, what was that conversation like? Was he listening to you?
Snodderly: It was a very interactive conversation. It was indeed a true conversation. We both were conversing back and forth and I just felt like it was of God that he talked with me because he was refusing to talk to some of the other leading pastors of the state.
And so I believe God just gave us favor in his eyes. And it was a few weeks later, he reversed his decision on the churches, and we were thankful for that. So I like to think maybe I had a small part in that.
Leahy: I didn’t know that.
Snodderly: He actually was very nice to me. He expressed the fact that he was tired of Christians talking about it and he thought that just because we are Christians didn’t mean that we deserved special privileges. But of course, we politely explained to him that if thousands of people can walk into Walmart every hour across the street, why can’t a few hundred people walk into a church for one or two hours every week?
And that was just one of the things we explained to him. And through it all, he began to realize that really, not only are Christians not receiving special privileges during times like that, but we were actually a form of modern-day persecution in America. And so he came around, and we’re thankful for that.
Leahy: I think if I ever have a political problem, I’m going to hire you as a lobbyist. How about that? (Chuckles)
Snodderly: Hey, I need the money. I’ll be glad to do it. (Laughter)
Leahy: The name of your group is Tennessee Independent Baptist.
Snodderly: It’s actually Tennessee Independent Baptists for Religious Liberty.
Leahy: Got it.
Snodderly: And so we are still independent. We’re not a fellowship. We’re not a convention or anything like that. It’s just a group of Baptists. We work with all the Baptists too. Independent, Southern, and Free Will. And we try to represent everyone’s religious values and religious freedom.
We try to represent social issues and that sort of thing. But we are gathered specifically for the purpose of promoting and protecting religious freedom in our state and across America.
So I do a lot in Washington D.C. as well, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to have a life of politics and preaching. And so I am thankful for the opportunity to serve my God and country in this manner.
Leahy: I hear this historical echo of the voice of Roger Williams when you talk.
Snodderly: Yes. What a great man. That’s very humbling to hear you say that, because to be compared to him is first of all, unfair to him. (Leahy chuckles) But secondly, he was a great man. I mean, what can you say? A man that inspired religious freedom like the world had never seen before.
Leahy: In America. In fact, if you look at religious freedom in America. It was really Roger Williams who inspired religious freedom because he was kicked out of Massachusetts Bay Colony by the Puritans because they didn’t like his version of preaching.
This would be 1636. He feared for his life. He walked through the snow for miles to get to Rhode Island, where he would then set up a separate colony that was known for religious freedom.
Snodderly: Oh, yes.
Leahy: Yes, he was a great Baptist, and we like to he was the first Baptist, wasn’t he?
Snodderly: Well, yes, he was a pretty prominent one, anyway.
Leahy: First prominent Baptist. Yes, sir.
Snodderly: And God really used him, and we’re thankful to people like him. And not just him, but even our founding fathers, who were, I believe, overtly Christian and unashamed of it. And therefore they gave us the right to worship God freely. And we are thankful for that.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Aaron Snodderly” by Tennessee Independent Baptists for Religious Liberty. Background Photo “Tennessee Capitol” by Ichabod. CC BY-SA 3.0.