Knoxville event features speakers calling for an end to national group's influence in Tennessee public policy
State Representative Gloria Johnson of Knoxville joined a group of Tennessee pastors in calling out the national group Alliance Defending Freedom for their role in pushing anti-LGBTQ policies in the state. The lawmaker and pastors spoke out at a press conference today.
Johnson, who represents Tennessee's 13th House district, opened the press conference sharing her concerns about the influence of national groups in our state policy and condemning the recent infiltration of anti-LGBTQ policy proposed by Alliance Defending Freedom and similar national groups. "This is extreme, harmful, and contrary to the values I believe are at the core of all of us as Tennesseans as people who identify as the 'volunteer state'. I believe that every child, no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or the religion of their parents, deserves a safe and loving home to grow up in. And that is why I'm here today to speak out against the involvement of Alliance Defending Freedom and their infiltration here in Tennessee. They claim to be a Christian organization, but we can see that their goal is to discriminate against people, especially the LGBTQ community, under the guise of 'religious freedom."
Johnson added "Whether we worship at a church, a mosque, a synagogue, or a temple, America has no second-class faiths [...] As an elected leader, I believe our government, including those who oversee the legal process of adoption, must show a crucial separation of church and state. This is one of the founding values that make America so unique."
Rev. John Gill, Pastor of Church of the Savior in Knoxville, said, "When we read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 Jesus was clear that our highest obligation that we must love our neighbor and those who are 'other.' When we reach out in love in kindness to those the world tells us to hate or to discriminate against, we show our commitment to the way of Jesus and the Gospel message. ADF claims to 'defend religious liberty,' yet their actions are a clear distortion of the whole principle of religious freedom, which is intended to protect the religious freedom of all, not just a few or those in the majority. They are promoting a false notion of religious freedom, pushing their own sectarian agenda without any concern for the needs, concerns and freedom of religions of others."