Ousted by Party, Former Democrat Holds to Pro-Life Platform in Tennessee

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Longtime state legislator and Memphis pastor John DeBerry is now running as an Independent.

Editor’s note: This profile is the fourth in a CT series featuring Christian candidates who are running for legislative office in November.

John DeBerry insists he is not the one who changed; the Tennessee Democratic Party did.

The 69-year-old politician and Church of Christ pastor has represented part of Memphis in the state House of Representatives since 1994. But this year, after 13 consecutive victories in Tennessee’s 90th District, DeBerry was removed from the ballot and prohibited from running for reelection as a Democrat.

The Tennessee Democratic Party chair said DeBerry, who has voted according to his pro-life stance on abortion as well as in favor of school choice, “demonstrated more loyalty to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party.”

DeBerry insists his voters have always known where he stood on abortion and other social issues; they sent him to Nashville again and again. “Life has mattered my entire career,” he told Christianity Today. “My principles have not changed, and I am not changing my principles because I have a D behind my name.”

DeBerry’s fight to stay in the race in Tennessee is an example of the precarious political position a dwindling number of pro-life Democratic politicians find themselves in. But DeBerry wants to remain in the party because, knowing his constituents, he believes he’s not alone; he says they too are Christian Democrats who stand for life.

DeBerry has been a Democrat since 1968 when he voted in his first presidential election. His parents were Democrats, but his grandparents had been Eisenhower Republicans. It was Christian leaders taking a stand during the civil rights movement—former president Jimmy Carter, …

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