Atheist Loses Tennessee Election After Being Attacked For Not Believing In God

Published March 14, 2018

In an overwhelming red district, the Tennesse Republican Party put effort into a smear campaign against the special election's atheist democratic opponent.

Gayle Flyer - OG

patheos.comCampaign flyer received by a member of the district from the Tennessee Republican Party

On Tuesday March 13, 2018, Republican candidate Shane Reeves beat Democrat candidate Gayle Jordan in a Tennessee special election. The special election was for a Senate seat left vacant by Jim Tracey, who Trump tapped for a federal position.

The district voted overwhelmingly for Trump during the 2016 presidential election. But Jordan didn’t just want to see a Republican skate to victory unopposed. She simply wanted to offer a progressive option.

Jordan ran on a platform that focused on expanding Medicaid in Tennessee, investments in infrastructure, and funding for public schools.

Jordan is also an atheist. She has stated, “It’s incidental to who I am” and has said she is not on a mission to end religion.

Though that didn’t stop Tennessee Republicans and religious groups from zeroing in on Jordan’s beliefs.

Based on the majority conservative makeup of the district, Reeves was likely to see victory without the Republican party having to do much of anything. Special elections are also known for having low voter turnout.

Instead, they waged a smear campaign, explicitly commenting on Jordan’s atheist beliefs.

The Tennessee Republican party put out a press release labeling her as an extreme anti-Christian.

Her opponent Reeves is quoted as saying, “I just feel like her views are radical.”

Flyers were created insinuating Jordan’s “kooky” ideas.

Randy McNally, a Republican member of the Tennessee Senate, wrote a tweet against Jordan stating, “In my 40+ years in politics, I’ve seen few candidates as dangerous as Gayle Jordan.”

Jordan, an avid biker, used McNally’s description of her in a post on her Facebook page with the caption “2-wheel campaigning!” followed by the hashtag #dangerouswoman.

Jordan is a Rutherford County farmer and lawyer. She was part of the Southern Baptist Church for 40 years and has said that her experience with religion was positive, but questions from her children caused her to examine her own beliefs.

The first amendment indicates a separation of church and state, but it can be argued that the consistently Christian majority in Congress demonstrates the actual role religion has when it comes to selecting government officials.

Next, you might be interested in checking out the reporter who was body slammed by a Congressional GOP Candidate on the night before the election. Then, read about the time Pope Francis said it’s better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Christian.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.
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