As I’m sure you know, I’ve been struggling over the past weeks about who I will be voting for in the mayoral election. I found myself flirting with the notion of voting for someone who is certainly more conservative than I. I was intrigued but what you had to offer, believing that you were a person who represented a more thoughtful and graceful form of conservatism. I believed that your personal faith perspective influenced your approach to politics, given your repeated assertions of a “live and let live” policy. You offered valuable and valid critiques of where we find ourselves as a city, and I began to believe that you were committed to engaging in substantive conversation over the challenges we face as a city.
And then you and your supporters decided to bring religion into the race.
Understand, I am a person of faith. I believe that our faith perspectives color our values. As a person in the Judeo-Christian stream, I recognize the sacred worth of all as persons created in the image of God, and my belief in that worth and value is what colors my political decision-making. Hopefully, but not always, our faith reflects the things that we hold near and dear to us. It can be a valuable part of the conversation.
But faith is not a weapon of attack. It is not a club to be used to pummel someone into submission, nor a weapon of mass destruction to besmirch the reputation of the other. To attack a person for their faith (or lack of it) is to ignore their identity as people deserving of God’s grace; to objectify them as objects of derision rather humans seeking fulfillment; and to demonize them in pursuit of winning at all costs. Even worse, to attack someone for their spouse’s or family’s belief is to paint with a broad brush which says that the “take no prisoners” approach to politics is alive and well in your campaign . I simply cannot support that.
I chose to believe that the backhanded rumors that Megan was an atheist were outside your campaign . . . dirty tricks by people dedicated to getting you elected at all costs. However, as I hear the new radio ads, I have to believe that the desire to win has infected your campaign to the point where you’ve given into the tactics of fear and hatred — tools that have unfortunately been a part of the toolbox of many of your colleagues. I honestly thought that you might actually be above all that, but as I’ve read more and more that belief has been eroded.
Look, I understand that you aren’t the only one throwing underhanded accusations at the other. Neither of you is particularly pure in this race, and frankly the whole thing has sickened me to the point where I simply want to walk the other way.
But when you attack someone’s faith perspective, you are going a little deeper in my opinion. You are attacking their humanity, a place of vulnerability which must be off-limits in a political campaign in a secular society. You can question her policies all day long, but you cannot attack her as a human being without risking the ire of this writer.
You may think it worth the risk, that gaining control of the city justifies the use of any tactic to win. You may believe that a Barry administration will destroy this city and think that gives you the moral imperative to attack on all fronts.
You may think it, but I fear that in doing so you, and the entire city of Nashville, loses our heart and our soul.
If my own faith teaches me anything it is that the process is as important as the outcome.
Given what I’ve seen of your process over the past several weeks, I don’t think I can give you my vote.
My hope and prayer is that you and Megan can find a way forward in the next few days that might find a place of grace and understanding rather than attack and division. I know that’s likely an idealistic dream, but a guy has to have hope.