Nashville City Officials Stand By Decision To Turn Away Christian Activist At Muslim Event Where Mayor Barry Spoke

Tennessee Star


A Nashville area man says he was turned away at a public event at a mosque on Saturday because he is a Christian, but city officials say they had a right to deny him entry because it was private property and he was there to protest.

Jay Chamness tried to attend a luncheon Saturday at the Islamic Center of Tennessee in Antioch, where Nashville Mayor Megan Barry spoke. He told The Tennessee Star that he arrived wearing a Jesus t-shirt and sporting a Christian flag atop his truck. He also had a sign that on one side said “Veterans Before Refugees” and on the other side said “Truth Sounds Like Hate To Those Who Hate The Truth.”

Chamness, a 51-year-old Southern Baptist, told The Star that he is politically involved and upset by Barry’s “disdain for white Christian males in Nashville.”

(Note: There is at least one other person with the same name in the Nashville area, a well-known attorney. This Jay Chamness is not the attorney.)

At Saturday’s event, he was first approached by several Muslim men who asked him to leave. Chamness left but returned later closer to the time when Barry was set to speak. He was then asked to leave by an officer with the Metro Nashville Police Department. MNPD spokeswoman Kris Mumford confirmed to The Star that Chamness was asked to leave because he made the men uncomfortable, but added that he was welcome to protest across the street, where Chamness said a few other protesters had gathered earlier for a short time.

Chamness said he left willingly.

“I’m not going to argue with Metro police,” he said. “I respect the police.”

Still, Chamness, who lives in Brentwood in Davidson County and is originally from Paris in West Tennessee, wanted to know why he couldn’t attend the event since it was advertised as being open to the public. He contacted city officials about what happened and in an email response, Barry spokesman Sean Braisted said that it was “a privately held event that was open to members of the public at the discretion of the sponsors of the event” and that the right to protest “does not extend to being permitted on private property to disrupt or protest a peaceful event.”

Nashville attorney and Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips told The Star that the property owner does have the final say in cases like this. Similarly, a Christian group could exclude someone from their property if they believed the person would be disruptive, Phillips said.

Below is the full text of Braisted’s response:

Mr. Chamness,

 I understand you have contacted a number of members of the Mayor’s Office staff regarding your efforts to attend an event at the Islamic Center of Tennessee on Saturday, May 6.

This event was a privately held event that was open to members of the public at the discretion of the sponsors of the event. There were Christians at the event, including the Mayor, so it would seem that if you were denied entry, it was likely not based on your religious beliefs, rather your actions and apparent opposition to the community sponsoring the event.

Mayor Megan Barry, along with a majority of Nashvillians, believes that Nashville is stronger because we are an inclusive city that respects people of all faiths, cultures, and ethnicities. While she respects your constitutional right to protest, that right does not extend to being permitted on private property to disrupt or protest a peaceful event.

We are also in receipt of your request to review Mayor Barry’s remarks from the Standing up for Justice & Muslim Community Day. Understand that Mayor Barry often does not read directly from the prepared remarks, and will speak extemporaneously at events such as this. I’ve attached these prepared remarks as well as the language from the proclamation Mayor Barry presented at the event.

I hope this answers your questions and satisfies your requests.

Peace Be Unto You,

Sean Braisted
Press Secretary
Office of Mayor Megan Barry



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16 Thoughts to “Nashville City Officials Stand By Decision To Turn Away Christian Activist At Muslim Event Where Mayor Barry Spoke”

  1. Anne Moorman

    People – please review the facts and then attempt an educated response. He had the right to protest just like we all do. He was just not allowed to do so on private property – same as all of us. Think!

  2. Anne Moorman

    Sarah – no it isnt. It is ignorance. My name is Anne. No other spelling.

    1. SarahR


      OK, Anne. Whatever you say.

  3. Susan E Gingrich

    Is someone demonstrating their first amendment rights by wearing a tee shirt representing their faith automatically a protest? Such hypocrisy demonstrated by Muslims, the Mayor of Nashville, and the police force she directs. Imagine the same reaction to someone wearing a Allah is the only God tee-shirt at a public event featuring the Mayor held at a Christian Church. If you can’t, neither can I. Only Christians are expected to be tolerant.

    1. Bob

      Let them prove it’s a religion of peace.

  4. Wait… did he end his letter “Peace Be Unto You”?

    1. Bob

      The whole cabinet is Muslim

  5. Glen Facto

    i always wanted to see nashville last year we were in pigion forge but after this i will never go to tenn again to bad you had such a wonderfull state till now

    1. Anne Moorman

      Glenn – I teach my grandkids that stupid people know they are stupid and hence shut up. Ignorant people have no such knowledge and keep showing how ignorant they are. You are one of the later. Please check your spelling and grammar and punctuation. Further, you obviously have no concept about the issue. It is about love and peace and acceptance. I hope you stand by your promise to never return to this state.

  6. James Hollingsworth

    So why are paid aggiitators allowed to invade a Trump event??

  7. Bruce A Sanford

    WHY is it that the moslems can protest nearly ANYWHERE they want, but Christians, which DOMINATE this country, cannot? There shouldn’t be a double standard when it comes to protesting. What about our First Amendment rights? Has our LIBERAL mayor denied us of that also? It makes me think even less of the liberal that someone else voted in the Nashville mayor position. I sure didn’t.

    1. Anne Moorman

      Bruce – what are “moslems”?

      1. SarahR

        “Moslem” and “Moslems” are alternate spellings of “Muslim”

        See also: “Anne” and “Ann” or “Sarah” and “Sara”

  8. Well it is private property. and Protests are tools of the left.

    1. Jay Chamness

      I am a Trump supporter.