Last year, I was all but forced to pass a bill that guaranteed public school teachers legal protection should they become a target for daring to express their faith and wish someone a “Merry Christmas.” It was an absolute shame that I even had to run such a bill, but the University of Tennessee system is showing each and every lawmaker in the State of Tennessee why such laws were necessary to pass in the first place. As a graduate of both the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and The University of Tennessee at Martin, I am absolutely disgusted with my alma mater for discouraging staff from expressing their Christian values for fear of “offending someone.”
In the past, I have defended Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, but those days are over. A couple months ago when UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion suggested that students and faculty use “gender neutral pronouns” to describe men and women, the tax-paying citizens of Tennessee were furious. Because we were assured that no ‘practice or policy’ would be published without Chancellor Cheek’s approval, we vested our faith in his ability to ensure that Christian values were not a target at the University of Tennessee.
Now, we have news that the University is telling students and staff that they should not have Christmas parties because they will offend non-Christians. Unfortunately, Cheek did not put a stop to this. Therefore, I join Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Sen. Mike Bell and Sen. Delores Gresham in calling for the immediate resignation of Chancellor Cheek.
It seems as if Chancellor Cheek and university staff have forgotten where their paychecks comes from. As a reminder, your check comes from a budget that’s funded by hard-working Tennessee tax-payers and approved by state lawmakers such as myself. In addition, your paycheck is also funded by alumni donations from graduates of the university such as myself.
We allowed the university and leadership the opportunity to resolve the situation internally, and they have refused. You will not continue to spend tens of millions of Tennessee tax-payer dollars discouraging students and university staff from celebrating and expressing their Christian values because should they choose to do so, then they are being offensive.
I am quite literally sick and tired of watching Tennessean’s tax-payer dollars fund a war against their Christian values. Your time is up.
Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is a Republican state representative representing Weakley, as well as, parts of Obion and Carroll counties. This op-ed previously appeared in the Claiborne Progress, a Civitas Media publication.