Opinion: Bible-beating Tennessee Republican Party must read the book it beats


Hate trafficking is alive and well in Tennessee – and particularly in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Last Monday, Tennessee State Representative Chris Todd R-Jackson accused a Christian foster care organization – the well-known Bethany Christian Services, which has an office in Chattanooga – of facilitating trafficking human beings by working with the federal government to place unaccompanied migrant children. with approved sponsors in this country.

“It all smacks of impropriety, and I’m very concerned about these kids being pushed into this trafficking situation,” Todd said. “Our own federal government is trafficking. They haul them across the country and drop them off in neighborhoods, flying them in the middle of the night.”

Seems familiar? Yes of course. It sounds like the savage and bogus hate trafficking rhetoric launched in Chattanooga in the spring and last summer after a TV report aired about unaccompanied children airlifted to Chattanooga – sometimes at night – and housed in a shelter in Highland Park operated by the Baptiste Grouper.

In fact, Todd’s comments came at the last meeting of the state’s special committee to investigate refugee and immigrant issues – an effort that began with concerns about the now-now Chattanooga shelter. firm.

It started here, with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, US Representative Chuck Fleischmann, and US Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty all flogging the Biden administration, laying similar false charges of “human trafficking.”

The problem with their post was that Lee and his children’s services department had approved the Baptist Group shelter for the sole purpose of temporarily housing unaccompanied minors until they could be placed with approved sponsors. . And they had approved it a year before, when Donald Trump was still president. Yet suddenly all of those Trumpian Republicans were in dismay and wondering why these kids were infiltrating here.

Raise your hand if you think they might have taken their pearls and accused a Trump administration of human trafficking to a safe haven they themselves approved.

But the resulting kerfuffle in Chattanooga was just as ugly as the initial slurs. Shortly after the racketeering of Republican politicians, an abuse allegation was filed with the state.

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services looked into the first allegation that an adult kissed a child and then again looked into a second allegation, saying “kissing” was not listed as an act of kissing. sexual abuse. On June 3, the state made an unannounced visit to the Baptiste Group shelter and interviewed six children, one of whom told a DCS employee he saw a shelter worker kissing a child there. State inspectors wrote in their June 3 summary that “the physical inspection did not provide any conclusion or need for corrective action.”

But media coverage sparked both an internal investigation and an investigation by local and federal law enforcement, ultimately leading to three arrests. The state also suspended Groupe Baptiste’s residential childcare license.

Baptiste sued the state, accused of discrimination and claiming that despite similar allegations against other shelters, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services suspended only one residential child care license in the over the past five years – that of the Baptiste group.

But judging from Chris Todd’s screed last week, that’s not enough to appease the rabid, anti-immigration and anti-Biden members of the GOP in Nashville.

Bethany, a national organization that follows a long-standing federal immigration policy, has supported unaccompanied children since the 1960s and helped settle 40 unaccompanied children in Tennessee last year through a transitional foster care program , said Amy Scott, state director of the group.

The organization has received around 100 children since March 2019 (yes, even when Trump was president), of whom about 15 to 20 have remained in Tennessee after finding a sponsor, she said. The program is funded by the federal government and does not receive any money from the state.

“Children are children. An unaccompanied child wants what every child wants – to be with their family and to be safe,” Scott told the panel in his opening testimony. “We help unaccompanied children as a faith-based organization because Jesus calls Christians to welcome the stranger, to love their neighbor, and to serve those who are neglected and ignored. We believe that all children no matter what. where they came from or what they lived, deserves to be treated with dignity and care. “

Someone needs to preach this sermon to our GOP leaders and lawmakers. They missed it.

Todd said he would not trust the documents of immigrant parents of children in the United States, and asked why organizations like Bethany do not place unaccompanied children with a family member in their home country. .

Another lawmaker, Representative Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, said it is a commandment in the Christian tradition to provide for those in need. But he added: “We [the U.S.] we can’t go and solve all the problems in the world unless we have all the resources in the world and we still may not be able to do it. “

It is clear that these two missed many Bible lessons. They should review the sermon “Do to others what you would have them do to you,” as well as the “miracle of five loaves of bread and two fish” – the ingredients that Christ used to feed multitudes of thousands.