Tennessee Republicans are still running a smear campaign against Gayle Jordan, an atheist Democrat running for a State Senate seat up for grabs next Tuesday. The Republican who held that seat resigned to take a position with the Trump administration, which is why there’s a special election next week, but this is still a very red district and any Republican will likely win it. Jordan simply wanted voters to have another option.
Why are they spending so much time trying to attack her? I honestly have no idea. But it’s incredible to see how her atheism is being used against her.
A reader passed along these campaign flyers sent to his home by the Tennessee Republican Party.
Let’s talk about those. Because I can understand conservatives criticizing her for being too liberal, for being pro-choice, or for supporting the radical notion that everyone deserves health care. (The monster.)
But I have no clue why it’s a problem that she runs Recovering From Religion, “a non-profit that helps individuals ‘cross that bridge’ from believing in God to being an atheist.”
What’s the big deal there? There are pastors who help people transition from religious apathy or rejection… to finding Jesus. Just because you say that with scary music running in the background — which is all these flyers really are — doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it. She’s not forcing people to be atheists. She’s helping people who request it. Apparently helping people is “out-of-touch with Tennessee values.”
Nor does any of her work make her “anti-religious” as one flyer says. Notice that the Republicans don’t quote her saying she wants to round up and punish Christians or shut down their churches. That’s because she would never do that. These people are equating atheism with anti-theism, and it’s ignorant.
I’m also disturbed by the claim that her desire to support transgender rights means she “opposes protections for children.” That’s another Republican lie. She does want to protect children, and making sure trans kids can go to the appropriate bathroom is one way to do that. No child is in danger because they pee in the same bathroom as a trans classmate.
Then check out those two pull-quotes at the end.
“God is such a bad God. The sacrifice of Jesus is such a bad concept, and even if it were true, I wouldn’t want to follow it.” First of all, she’s right. As Richard Dawkins famously wrote:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
The quotation comes from a podcast interview she did in 2015 on the Everyone’s Agnostic Podcast, around the 34:15 mark. They misquoted her, even if the gist is correct, but the point she was making was that she doesn’t reject God because she “hates” him — as many Christians often say about atheists — but rather because there’s no evidence for His existence. That’s it.
Here. Listen in context.
But it’s that second quotation that’s a doozy, with her allegedly bragging about “doing my part to destroy the fabric of America.”
The GOP again gave no context for it, so let me help. In December, Jordan officiated a same-sex wedding. She later posted a picture of her with the couple on Facebook using that line. It was a joke, everyone, a reference to the conservative talking point about how gay marriage is supposedly ruining the country.
Out of context, of course, they’re making her look like a traitor.
This is how the GOP works. They know they can’t just disagree with her positions, so they make up claims to frighten their gullible base. There’s nothing wrong with what she’s saying, and she would represent Christians in office just as well as she would represent atheists. But Republicans refuse to be honest about that. And they’re hoping the residents of District 14, just south of Nashville, are too dumb to realize that.
The election takes place next week. You can donate to her campaign right here.
And be sure to read this incredible letter to the editor in the Times-Gazette. The writer, David Pearce, notes that the Republican Shane Reeves is waging a despicable campaign, perhaps even breaking the law by calling for church leaders to endorse him from the pulpit.
This past week, his campaign manager sent out a letter to local clergy asking them to speak from the pulpit and encourage their parishioners to get out and vote for Mr. Reeves as his opponent is a [devout] atheist and a threat to our values. First, this is a clear violation of the law, and if Mr. Reeves and his campaign are willing to violate the law to be elected, what are they willing to do once in office?
… in closing, Mr. Reeves, stop shouting that “I am a Christian,” and start acting like one. Clergy, don’t do what Mr. Reeves and his campaign is asking you to do and break the law, personally, if my church leadership were breaking the law I would question my church. And Voters, Don’t listen to the mudslinging going on and look at the issues and the plans of action on each issue. Once you do, you will see that Gayle Jordan is more like you than you realize, you will see that she has a moral compass that is almost identical to yours, and you will see she is the only candidate that has a plan to lead Tennessee into a brighter tomorrow.
(Thanks to Glen and Brian for the link)