This morning I got word that Family Action of Tennessee had started an attack on Megan Barry's campaign for mayor. You can read it here.
Their argument: The piece says that Barry wants to "exclude those whose Orthodox Christian beliefs inform their public lives." And as evidence, Family Action cites the 2011 Metro contractor non-discrimination ordinance, of which Barry was a sponsor. They further bolster their point by including a clip of former Councilman Phil Claiborne who just basically says that orthodox believers of many religions oppose LGBT people.
Disclosures: Before I get into the refutation, let's have all the disclosures. TEP PAC endorsed Megan Barry for Mayor. I personally voted for her on the first day of early voting. And I don't speak for her or her campaign. There. That's all on the table.
Here's another disclosure. I have an M.Div. and studied the history of the Church for years. I completed all the coursework for a Ph.D. in the history of Christian thought at Vanderbilt, even took some of my qualifying exams in the area, but I never could settle on a final dissertation area so I pursued other things. But I did pretty darned well in my coursework and my exams.
So I know a thing or two about "Orthodox Christian beliefs." And since I was involved in the Metro contractor ordinance, I know a few things about that, too.
Doctrines of sex and gender: First, beliefs about sexuality and gender, while debated and important, have not in the long sweep of Christian history been the defining test of orthodoxy. What Family Action is asking people to buy is that there are orthodox beliefs about sex and gender on par with the Nicene Creed. And there's just no evidence for that. In fact, the evidence points to variability of belief and practice among Christians who otherwise held in common certain core beliefs like the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, etc.
Why the contractor ordinance proves nothing: Second, Family Action's argument that by supporting the contractor ordinance, Barry excludes people with Orthodox Christian beliefs is blatantly false. People can believe whatever they want, but to contract with Metro government, the bill said that they had to affirm that they would not use tax dollars to discriminate against their employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And guess what, lots of people were OK with that, including people with Orthodox Christian beliefs. Some congregations even endorsed the bill!
What looks like orthodoxy is actually heresy: Really to take the point further, what Family Action is asking people to believe is that there is an Orthodox Christian doctrine that supervisors should be able to fire LGBT people or not hire them in the first place. This is what the old theologians and bishops used to call an "innovation," and they weren't using that word in a positive light. In other words, it's a new doctrine, or I would add a heresy. Not only that, but it's bad public policy.
Nashville needs neither this kind of heresy nor bad public policy.