Tennessee’s GOP leaders need to be reminded of what Jesus stood for | Opinion – Commercial Appeal

Posted By on September 2, 2021

Rev. Dr. Lillian H. Lammers| Guest Columnist

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"There were many times in the Bible where Jesus broke the law in order to feed people or care for people, as a way of teaching others that sometimes the law can get in the way of doing what is right.

This isaquotefrom a statementthat I made at a press conference on Aug.19that was published in Tennessee pastors speak about Gov. Bill Lee's order to allow mask opt-outs in schools.Thisquote deserves a little more context, and that context provides an even greater indictment of our state leaderships response to the COVID-19 crisis.

This quote read alone, without an understanding of Jesus in the New Testament,can lead to amisinterpretation ofhisactions. There are multiple times intheBible that Jesus is accused of breaking Jewish Lawtouching a person with leprosy andhealing the sick and disabledorrefusing to condemn those who are hungry and picking grains on theSabbath.

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However, Jesus didnotactuallybreak Jewish Law. He disobeyed thefalseapplication oftheTorah by those in positions of religious authority.Jesus was correcting the incorrectapplicationsof the law, not rewriting it.

Jesuspubliclydisregardedharmfulhuman-made rulesfromthose inpositions ofauthority. He was a devout Jew, and time and againoffered powerful examples ofhow Judaism commands love of neighbor and stranger.Those in positions of religious authorityduring his timecreated rules that ultimately undercut the call to love and care for others.

By breaking these rules, Jesus ultimatelyembodiedtheJewishLawwhileeducating those around him in the process.What the illustration of the rule-breaking Jesus offers us is a reminder that the overall ethos of the gospel is one of love for neighbor and stranger, just as it is with the Torah.

As Inotehow Jesus was responding to the errant teachings of those in positions of authority, I cannot help butdraw a parallel to the leadership of Governor Bill Lee, Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and Speaker Cameron Sexton.

These threesit in positions of authority andtout their Christianity, even naming the churches they attend on their websites.Yet, as our state finds itself in midst of a devastating surge of the delta variant, these leaders continue to spread misinformation and createand support legislationthat endangerstheir constituents.

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The recent executive order signed by Governor Lee and endorsed by the majority of our state leadershipbanning local mask mandates in schoolsis not only foolish, itis incompatible with Christianteachings.

The state of Tennessee shows up on national graphs as one of the hot spots forCOVID-19 infections. To date, over 13,000 Tennesseans have died, and cases and hospitalizations are rapidly increasing.Thenumber of children getting sick from this new variant is significantly greater,and children have died from COVID-19 infections.

Lee, Johnson, Sexton and many other state leaders who claim to be Christians need a strong reminder thatleadership that does not value thehealth andsafetyof our neighborsis irresponsible, immoral and certainly not Christian.

There is nothing in the Bible thataccounts for their dismissal oftheGod-givenwisdom of doctors, scientists and public health professionals, or that prohibits prioritizing public health over individual preferences.

Rather,the Christianfaith requires that we take care of one another. Jesus repeatedly offers this as the best example for how to love God and how to be his follower.

I continue to call on people of faith in this state to demonstrate love of theirneighborsby wearing a mask, getting vaccinated when eligible, and seeking to protect one another from this deadly virus.

Rev. Dr. Lillian H. Lammersis associatepastorofFirst Congregational Church of Memphis.


Tennessee's GOP leaders need to be reminded of what Jesus stood for | Opinion - Commercial Appeal

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