Story by Toriana Williams / Contributing Writer
Tennessee State Governor Bill Lee announced in a video uploaded to Twitter that October 10 is now a statewide official day of prayer and fasting. He credits the idea to the “countless Tennesseans” who told him they were praying for him and his family during his campaign.
— Governor Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) September 18, 2019
“Prayer,” he said in the video, “strengthens our families and it strengthens our communities, it strengthens our relationship with our neighbors, it strengthens our relationship with God himself.”
Lee continued to invite citizens of Tennessee to join him and his wife, spiritually, in their homes, communities and places of worship to fast and to pray for God’s favor and blessing on Tennesseans.
Despite the fact that Tennessee has a strong faith base, there have been many negative responses to this announcement.
Christian Gay, a freshman at Middle Tennessee State University, said, “I think that it’s a clear representation of how southern politicians use religion to further whatever agenda calls the masses of sheep to their shepherds.”
On Twitter, there are a variety of replies, both in support of and against the statewide official day of prayer and fasting. However, some are concerned for the cultures and other religions it will affect, such as Judaism, due to the fact that October 8 and 9 is Yom Kippur, which is a nationally recognized holiday that involves praying and fasting as well. People have also noted that this day excludes people of non-faith.
Christopher Young, a sophomore at MTSU, said, “I think it’s an outreach stunt for a target audience…It makes sense. We’re in the bible belt. Prayer, religion and church are large parts of the culture here. All in all, it sounds to me like a targeted voter relation ordeal.”
According to World Population Review, 81 percent of Tennessee’s population are affiliated with a Christian based faith. Lee may have scored points with other Christians, but may have lost out on the 19 percent of Tennessee’s population that is non-christian.
However, among the negative reactions, Lee’s day of prayer and fasting was being applauded by some.
Doug Daugherty, president of the Chattanooga-based non-profit organization Hamilton Flourishing, said a day of prayer sets a positive tone for the state.
“I think our nation needs it,” Daugherty said. “In Tennessee, it’s a good time to be thankful. It’s great to stop and thank God for that.”
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