In its upcoming session, the Tennessee Legislature may consider a bill which would allow bullying if such bullying is based upon a bully’s “expression of religious, philosophical, or political views as long as such expression does not include a threat of physical harm to a student or of damage to a student’s property.”
The bill, heavily lobbied by the Family Action Council of Tennessee, is supposed to “make sure [the law] protects the religious liberty and free speech rights of students who want to express their views on homosexuality.”
Not only does this bill establish a special right for religious individuals to persecute, harass, and demean LGBT people, but it also can be turned on its head, and harm the people that is is supposedly crafted to protect.
As the legislation says, bullying is acceptable as long as it is based upon a students “religious, philosophical, or political beliefs.”
Thus, if a Christian was bullying a Jewish person, calling them a “Christ killer” and a “worthless heathen who is going to hell,” that is completely acceptable, because it is based in religion.
Conversely, Christians can also be bullied by their peers for believing in the “fairy tails” of Christianity, such as the virgin birth and the resurrection. Even African-Americans can be bullied, for the bully could claim that their distaste for African-Americans is based upon the curse of Ham contained in the book of Genesis.
This is why this bill failed in Michigan, because instead of giving the bully special protection for their bullying, the bully was open to persecution himself.
The failure of this bill in Michigan give an inkling for the real reason for such legislation (give Christians special rights to make others feel worthless), yet when the unintended consequences of the legislation are made apparent, lawmakers want to distance themselves from the “religious persecution” bill.
After a lot of media criticism, the Senate sponsor of the bill, Republican Senator Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, has decided to “narrow” the bills scope.
I wonder what such “narrowing” entails, and if that narrowing will give specific license to bully LGBT Tennesseans.