Reinstated Tennessee Lawmaker Goes Viral For Smacking Down Colleague’s ‘Bigotry’
Rep. Justin Jones is resuming his role in the Tennessee state House by calling out a Republican-sponsored bill that targets teachings about race, sex and what Republicans call other “divisive concepts” in higher education.
“Do you believe that it is racist to prohibit concepts on systemic racism and the history of America?” Jones asked Republican state Rep. John Ragan on Wednesday during debate over H.B. 1376, a bill Ragan introduced. The legislation would strengthen a law passed last year that withholds funding from schools that teach concepts related to systemic racism and sexism.
The existing law echoes language used in other state legislatures around the country to target “critical race theory” as the Republican culture war on the educational framework rages on.
“My belief is in God,” Ragan answered Jones. “I settle other things with facts and data. The fact of the matter is, sir, this bill is not racist. It is not unconstitutional.”
Jones replied: “You keep bringing up God. but God says in Isaiah 10: ‘Woe to those who pass unjust laws that hurt the poor and robbed them of their rights.’”
“And so stop using God to justify your bigotry,” he continued. “Stop using God to justify hatred and racism.”
At that moment, state House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Republican, banged his gavel and told Jones: “You are out of order.”
Jones is one of two Black Democrats recently expelled from the state legislature by the GOP supermajority for joining protesters who chanted in the House chamber in support of gun control following a school shooting in Nashville last month.
Jones was reinstated Monday by Nashville’s Metropolitan Council; state Rep. Justin Pearson was reinstated Wednesday by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners in Memphis.
According to Jones’ campaign website, he holds a B.A. in political science and is completing his master’s in theological studies at Vanderbilt University.
A clip of his comments about God on Wednesday has been viewed more than 500,000 times.
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