Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Conservatives draw on core values in response to Knoxville Church shooting

Greg Johnson has a thoughtful piece in today's Knoxville News Sentinel that discusses conservative responses to the tragic shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. He notes that many conservatives in East Tennessee have been "jarred" by the apparent anti-liberal motives of the shooter as well as the debate over the influence of prominent conservative authors. Johnson's column is part of the healing process, just as First Baptist Church's decision to host a prayer service for the Knoxville community. Regardless of whether there is agreement about the policy implications of this tragic event, it is helpful to have an honest dialogue that squarely confronts the questions. Johnson does so poignantly. In his own words:

Some prominent East Tennessee conservatives were wrestling with the question when I spoke to them earlier this week. One noted that a core conservative value is the sanctity of human life. Another spoke of the worth of the individual being a fundamental conservative concept. Both spoke of the need for vigorous yet civil and peaceful debate of important issues.

But some conservative commentators, especially those selling books or ad slots on television or radio, go too far to shock and awe. Our culture - from Hollywood to online communities to cable television to talk radio - has coarsened. Too many on both sides of the political aisle have forsaken dialogue and debate for diatribes.

By some accounts, the suspect despised those different from him, be they liberals, blacks or gays. Though the community has started down the road of healing, our differences will remain. Debate will - and should - continue. Regardless of ideology, though, one timeless truth will still apply: "In the essentials, unity. In the nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity."

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