By Steve Hunley
“Collectively, we raise our voice and call for our public officials to hear their constituents,” Reverend Meredith Loftis cried at the Central United Methodist Church. The estimated 2,000 people gathered were some of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero’s constituents. In fact, they represented about 2% of a city of almost 200,000 residents.

It was the second meeting of the Justice Knox folks who hosted yet another “Nehemiah” meeting where they demand public officials answer their questions with either a “yes” or “no.” Rogero appeared as requested while Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas could not be there since he was attending a special called session of the board of education to pass a budget as required by the Knox County Charter. Apparently, Justice Knox officials arrogantly demanded Thomas either re-arrange his schedule, reschedule the board meeting (an authority he does not possess) or merely skip the board meeting altogether.

Rogero, an experienced public servant, was forthright about not liking the format and when pressed about providing more taxpayer-supported public housing, replied she would need more time and information before she could commit herself, which drew a sharp response from one of the Justice Knox leaders who said “…we hear you say ‘no’ to establishing a dedicated source of funding” for more public housing. “That is not what I said,” Rogero replied. “If you want to take that as a no, you can take that as a no, but I am telling you we’re going to work with you to try and improve affordable housing in this city.”

Mayor Rogero’s responses were truthful, forthright, and responsible, which is likely why the Justice Knox people rejected them.

Aside from public housing, the next item on Justice Knox’s big agenda is pushing “restorative practices” in the school system. Supposedly, restorative practices institutes punishments that stress a sense of community and trust in the perpetrators rather than suspensions from school. Readers will recall Nicholas Cruz, the Parkland school shooter, was in the restorative practices program in the Broward County Schools. Despite 39 visits from the Broward and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s departments and being cited 25 times for misbehavior, Cruz was never charged with any crime. Had he been charged just once, it would have been impossible for him to purchase a firearm legally.

It does not seem to me it is a coincidence these meetings are held in churches. I wonder how many of these people attending the Nehemiah Action Meetings would favor prayer in schools along with restorative practices? My guess is virtually none. Evidently they believe in separation of church and state, except for when it casts a patina of respectability over their own meetings. It provides something of a cover for a process that is clearly designed to be confrontational. Confrontation rarely begets cooperation. Tension rarely leads to harmony. Of course, that likely isn’t the goal of Justice Knox.

Say what they might, pastors conducting meetings about social issues that are political issues are mixing church and state. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton was asked if she was a capitalist. The fact that question would be asked of a presidential candidate in the United States of America should alarm most Americans. Clinton believed the question and her response that yes, she was a capitalist, hurt her election bid in Iowa where she believed 41% of Democrats were socialists.

The social justice warriors in our society have helped to create a toxic political atmosphere and readers ought to take notice, because whatever they advocate is going to cost you more money. Justice should always be about equality, not superior rights for anyone.

Perhaps the prophet Jeremiah had a better quote: “The wise men are ashamed; they are dismayed and taken; lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?”