Faith in Politics: Southern Political Battles Past and Present (Paperback)
Roy Herron graduated with highest honors from the University of Tennessee at Martin, then studied New Testament and Ethics in Scotland before earning Divinity and Law degrees from Vanderbilt University. But he came home to West Tennessee and served the Volunteer State in both the Tennessee House and Senate. For four decades, Herron served as a legislator, attorney, teacher, and Methodist minister. In that work, he published op-ed essays and articles in Tennessee’s leading newspapers and publications from The Japan Times to The Wall Street Journal on various topics including constitutional liberties, economic justice, health care, politics, and more.
This informative volume collects the most powerful of these writings, adding helpful updates and contemporary insights. With an engaging, conversational style, Herron addresses voter ID laws, drunk-driving statutes, women’s rights and many recurring, contemporary issues. Whether describing the challenges facing his elderly mother as she attempted to exercise her right to vote, or the struggles of working women and men facing illnesses without health insurance, Herron demonstrates an earnestness and thoughtfulness all too rare in politics.
These nearly fifty essays and articles provide evidence that Herron’s Democratic Party and Christianity are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, Herron describes how faith brought him to politics and to fighting for justice, jobs, and constitutional freedoms for all citizens. Faith at Work is a veritable guidebook on how faith and spirituality should affect decision making and advocacy in public life.
ROY HERRON was a Tennessee State Representative from 1987 to 1997 and State Senator from 1997 to 2013. He wrote Things Held Dear: Soul Stories for My Sons and God and Politics: How Can a Christian Be in Politics? He coauthored, with Cotton Ivy, Tennessee Political Humor: Some of These Jokes You Voted For. He lawyers and writes in West Tennessee and Nashville.
—Charlie Daniel, editorial cartoonist, Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame inductee
“Roy Herron’s heartfelt essays reveal the conscience, character, and resolve of the type of politician America sorely needs today. Required reading for Public Service 101.’’
—Sam Venable, author and Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel columnist
“During a time when so many Americans have lost faith in public institutions and the political process, Roy Herron’s Faith in Politics offers a roadmap to a restoration of faith. Roy appeals to our better angels who seek a shared public life of respect for different views and a commitment to find the common good.’’
—Bill Haltom, author of The Other Fellow May Be Right: The Civility of Howard Baker
“Roy Herron is an unusual mixture of a public man—lawyer, minister, lawmaker, teacher—and so he writes here with great authority about life and leadership in our world. Faith in Politics is full of Roy’s wisdom on a wide range of topics. Each essay in this volume is a joy to read—a blessing, really—and it will restore your faith in our American system of self-rule.”
—Keel Hunt, columnist for USA Today Tennessee, and author of Coup and Crossing the Aisle
“How can we hold public officials, particularly legislators, accountable? Roy Herron provides a compelling methodology that starts with basic, fundamental issues as a constant. He then identifies specific issues, of time and place and demonstrates, from his own speeches, writings, and votes, how we can hold him accountable. In this easy-to-read work, we learn to know Roy Herron, and we are provided with an objective means to evaluate his peers.”
—Malcolm Koch, instructor of political science and Executive Director of International Education (ret.), University of Tennessee–Martin
“This book about three generations of Tennessee political leadership needs to be read by all interested in how the state has become what it is today. The author is an excellent example of how an active minister can also be a successful political leader, without surrendering his views of right and wrong.”
—Charles W. Crawford, Ph.D., professor of history, University of Memphis
“I love the way Roy views and shares the world through the lens of his rural upbringing. He is a master storyteller, and during our shared time in the Tennessee General Assembly, Roy regaled friend and foe alike with stories that ascribed effect and affect to every issue. He is one of a kind in our beloved state.”
—Joe Pitts, mayor, City of Clarksville, Tennessee
“Roy Herron is one of the few remaining moderate political leaders left in Tennessee. His career in the state legislature is marked by his ability to forge compromises and his steadfast willingness to cast votes based on what was right, not what was politically expedient. His series of essays and op-eds that make up this book reflect the experiences and thoughtfulness of a man who served Tennessee with distinction for many years. They are a testament to the fact that the intersection of politics and faith is not a dead end. Reading them reminded me that the man I’ve known for nearly 25 years is a true statesman and public servant.”
—Otis Sanford, Hardin Chair of Excellence in Journalism, University of Memphis
“Roy Herron was my seatmate on the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives 25 years ago. I began learning from him then and continue to do so today through his new book. Some of the chapters were written by Roy nearly 40 years ago, but ring fundamentally true today. I agree with Roy when he says there are no new issues, just variations of the same issues. Roy is a writer, a very good writer . . . a realistic writer. His words are heartfelt, written with a positive tone, and true. The many essays, stories, and columns read extremely well together. Because of Roy, and the stories he writes about others, I still have faith in politics.”
—Craig Fitzhugh, chairman and CEO, Bank of Ripley, Ripley, Tennessee
“This collection of op-ed pieces drawn from four decades of public service in the Tennessee State House reflect the passion and politics, the faith and humor, of a true servant. Here, Senator Herron offers up a voice increasingly rare today—that of a centrist, a political and social moderate who proved capable of taking a stand but also crossing the aisle when so compelled. It’s not surprising that many of his topics remain challenges today, which makes this volume both timley and timeless.”
—David Coffey, professor of history and chair of the Department of Philosophy, University of Tennessee at Martin
“Herron’s writings stay within the left–right guardrails of politics and offer a welcome message of hope for the role of government in American society.”
—Matthew N. Murray, Director, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the University of Tennessee
“For going on fifty years it has been my good fortune to have been associated with Roy Herron. First as a Congressional Page, then as a person of faith and my state legislator, but most importantly as a friend. A quarter of a century in politics will divulge the true character of the person so engaged. Roy never changed. He championed the rights of rural and underprivileged Tennesseans and continues to do so today. His comments in this book on the failure of Republicans to expand Medicaid vividly demonstrates Roy's understanding of the role government should play in the lives of the disadvantaged and working poor in Tennessee. Tennesseans of all stripes owe a debt of gratitude to Roy Herron for his dedicated service to our state.”
—Joe Hill, District Director to U.S. Rep Ed Jones and U.S. Rep John Tanner (1973–2008)