Controversy over IN law has TN faith-based groups speaking up; s - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Controversy over IN law has TN faith-based groups speaking up; saying they'll serve anyone

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The bill that is causing so much controversy in Indiana is something Tennessee law makers are all too familiar with- they passed a similar one back in 2009.

Now, another bill in Tennessee for religious freedom has been put on the shelf.

If passed, it would protect mental health counselors in refusing treatment to groups of people because of religious beliefs.

Roger Hele says while Teen Challenge is a faith-based addiction program, they won't ever discriminate against anyone who truly needs help.

No matter the addiction, religious affiliation or life style; Teen Challenge is there to help.

"Our job is to love them, and love them through their addiction and we're going to come at it from a faith based perspective. But we're here to help them regardless," said Hele.

Hele says they're dealing with people's lives that need a major overhaul from addiction.

"We deal with hurting people. That's the one common denominator. They're hurting, they have a life controlling addiction, their life has been out of control and there is a sense of hopelessness in their life," said Hele.

Taylor Bell was one of those hurting people just three months ago.

"I was a heroin addict. I got locked up for 14 months 4 days. I was a stripper. I was agnostic by the time I was 18. I didn't believe in anything," said Bell.

Bell says that was never held against her at Teen Challenge.

But in other parts of the country, like Indiana, a difference in religious beliefs could get you the cold shoulder.

"The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split," said Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Bell says she's experienced nothing but love during her stay. One that's changed her life and she hopes others can learn to give that same love to others that may think differently.

"People need to know that when it comes to being discriminators towards someone who believes differently that you- that Jesus loved the sinner," said Bell. "Embrace that. Love the sinner and be an example towards someone that doesn't believe the same as you."

It's that thought, Hele says, they live by daily.

"Just love them right where they're at," said Hele.

Teen challenge serves both men and women suffering with addiction.

If you'd like more information on their program, click here.

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