Roy Exum: Is Atheism Incidental?

Sunday, March 11, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

There is going to be a special election in Middle Tennessee tomorrow that’s going to be worse than a grape-stomping at a wine vineyard. Shane Reeves, a respected businessman from Murfreesboro, is on the Republican side of the ballot and Gayle Jordan, self-described as a “hippie, liberal, and atheist activist,” is the Democrat choice. Now how do your reckon this one is going to turn out?

The two are vying for the District 14 seat in the state Senate that was vacated in December when Jim Tracy stepped down to join former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue at the Department of Agriculture. Tennessee’s District 14 includes the deep-red mid-state counties of Rutherford, Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore and – trust me -- those who live in places like Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Lynchburg and Fayetteville know all about Gayle officiating at a same-sex wedding not long ago. This is how politics works.

Randy McNally, Tennessee’s Lt. Governor, is in such a twist he’s liable to break out in hives by tomorrow. On his Facebook page Randy boldly states, “In my 40 plus years in Tennessee politics, I've seen few candidates as dangerous as Gayle Jordan. She is not just out of step with a majority of Tennessee on matters of policy, she is out of step on matters of values and faith.

McNally’s rant continues, “In her daily work, she directs an organization called ‘Recovering from Religion.’ Most Tennesseans, whether they are strong believers or not, recognize the strength and comfort faith provides. Gayle Jordan rejects faith as a positive force for good in the world. She believes faith is something from which people need to be rescued.

“This is not the type of person we need in the Tennessee Senate,” he added, a line that was ironically used yesterday in every church house from Lewisburg to Tullahoma. Mercy, you’d think the Democrat was the anti-Christ, a notion fueled by Jordan’s quote on the back of one flyer, “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.”

Jordan, an attorney whose farm is in Rutherford County, ran for the same seat as a Democrat in 2016 and Tracy got three times more votes. Special elections, such as the one tomorrow, draw few voters but the Republicans have so relentlessly smeared Jordan there is no telling how many might show up.  “I don’t make a big deal about of being an atheist. Its incidental to who I am,” she believes.

The Pew Research Centers shows than in 2014 report, over 80 percent of Tennesseans identified themselves as Christians compared to one percent as atheist. Jordan says, “I care about people. I care about peoples’ suffering. That’s what motivates me to be involved in my community - it’s what motivates me to run for office.”

Yet her chances are so slim “liberal” groups like Planned Parenthood and the Tennessee Education Association - both Hillary Clinton supporters - have donated to Reeves’ campaign. The counties in District 14 supported Donald Trump between 60 and 80 percent, giving him 26 points, but there is no telling what will happen to “The Godless Liberal” tomorrow.

Steve Lane, a Republican who has unsuccessfully run for office in Murfreesboro, wants fellow Republicans and Libertarians to vote for the atheist in a “protest vote.” He wants the “protest” to send a message that primaries should be closed and paid for by parties. He says Reeves is a RINO (Republican in Name Only). He claims Reeves is “no more a Republican” than Jordan.

“Consider this,” said Lane, “There are currently only five Democrats out of 33 total (in the state Senate.) If she wins there is literally nothing she will be able to do. I doubt she could even get a bill out of subcommittee.”

Better yet, Lane claims Reeves has spent more than $600,000 in his campaign ($95,000 of his own money) for a seat that pays about $20,000 per year. Jordan, on the other hand, has spent a reported $35,000.

Reeves scoffed at the “protest vote” notion. “When you get conservative stalwarts like Marsha Blackburn and Scott DesJarlais stumping for you, little stunts like that aren’t taken seriously. Our base is united and fired up to defeat the left wing policies our opponent promotes.”

“I just feel Gayle Jordan’s views are radical,” Reeves has said. “They are out of touch with the district.”

Reeves believes one’s faith shapes decisions. “I am a Christian and that is going to serve as a filter, serve as a moral compass, at how I look at things if I am fortunate enough to get elected.”

Richard Dawkins, a professor in London who is famous in atheism circles, endorsed Jordan with these words, “Good people of Tennessee – live down the disgrace of Scopes 1925. Support Gayle Jordan. Give Tennessee something to be proud of; an openly atheist State Senator.”

Sorry, Professor Dr. Dawkins, you have no conception of people who live in Middle Tennessee. They know the verse in the Bible’s book of Proverbs that reads, “Man’s own folly leads to his ruin; yet his heart rages against the Lord.”

I’m telling you true – there is fixing to be a drubbing in Middle Tennessee tomorrow.

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