Tennessee’s Shame: Discrimination, Guns, and the Legacy of the Confederacy

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In a disgraceful display of bigotry and discrimination, the Tennessee House has passed House Bill 878, authored by Rep. Monty Fritts (R-TN), which allows people to deny solemnizing marriages based on their “conscience” or “religious beliefs.” This thinly veiled attempt at legalizing homophobia and racism is a direct attack on the progress we’ve made as a nation in the fight for civil rights and equality.

House Bill 878 is a blatant example of the unapologetic Southern rebel Klan-like mindset that still permeates certain corners of American society. In 1864, General Sherman’s “scorched earth” policy sought to dismantle the infrastructure and economy of the Confederacy, which had fought against the United States and assassinated President Lincoln. Unfortunately, the vestiges of this hateful ideology have persisted, as evidenced by the passage of this bill.

General Sherman’s March to the Sea was a scorched earth campaign that left severe and long-lasting effects on civilians and their communities, including their homes, livelihoods, and even cultural heritage.

The ongoing legal battle involving the Universal Life Church in Tennessee further demonstrates the state’s unwillingness to embrace equal rights and religious freedom. By refusing to recognize ULC-ordained ministers as legitimate officiants for marriages, Tennessee continues to discriminate against those who do not adhere to traditional religious norms, read: Reverend G. Martin Freeman, Presiding Chaplain. This resistance to change highlights the deeply entrenched prejudice that still exists within the state.

The United States has long failed to confront and eradicate this mindset, but now is the time to take decisive action. President Lincoln once restrained General Sherman from torching every citadel of the rebel Confederacy; perhaps it’s time for modern-day leaders to take similarly bold measures. The federal government has the power to withhold funding from Tennessee to force compliance with the law and the values of the United States.

The state of Tennessee relies heavily on federal revenues, with 38 cents of every dollar spent coming from the federal government. If the president were to withhold federal funds for highways, police departments, and other projects, it could send a clear message to Tennessee and its sister MAGA states, that discrimination and bigotry will not be tolerated.

This bill is just one example of a larger issue festering in the rebel states. Voter suppression, attacks on reproductive rights, and other forms of discrimination are spreading like a virus, threatening to undo the progress we’ve made in recent years. We must fight against this resurgence of hatred and stand up for the most vulnerable members of our society.

It is alarming to note that the same individuals who champion this discriminatory bill are also responsible for laws that make AR-15 rifles readily available to the public. As if promoting homophobia and racism was not enough, they also contribute to the proliferation of firearms that have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings in recent history. Tennessee seems to prioritize the right to bear arms over the right to love, dignity, and equality.

The Christian cult that supports these discriminatory laws and promotes gun ownership under the guise of “bringing God’s kingdom back to earth” is a threat to the very foundation of our democracy. These individuals, blinded by their beliefs, fail to see the hypocrisy in their actions, as they promote death and division under the banner of faith.

Jesus said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 

Tennessee’s House Bill 878 passing, and the Universal Life Church’s legal battle is a big slap in the face reminder that some parts of the United States are still plagued with discrimination and bigotry. We can’t sit idly by and let these hateful ideologies win. It’s time to stand up to those Confederate-loving MAGA supporters and tell them to shove it. And don’t even get me started on those AR-15s. Those things are straight from the devil himself. Christians need to stop playing both sides and remember what Jesus said about welcoming children, not NRA-loving MAGA demons. So, let’s put our foot down and say enough is enough.