Members of the Williamson County-based Tennessee Stands are warning the public that a new bill making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly that purports to protect religious liberty does the opposite.
Legislators say that the bill, HB 1867, and its companion legislation, SB 1823, will secure religious exemptions for healthcare workers. The Tennessee General Assembly’s website lists Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) as the house sponsor. The website also lists Senator and Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) as the senate sponsor.
But in a new YouTube video, Tennessee Stands Executive Director Gary Humble warned that the bill, if enacted into law, will not secure religious exemptions for healthcare workers. He said the fact that Johnson, in his capacity as Senate majority leader, is sponsoring the bill “always means that this is the governor’s [Bill Lee’s] bill.”
“Instead of the employee just being able to go to the employer and say ‘I have a medical exemption,’ that’s not good enough,” Humble said.
“This bill puts an additional burden on the employee to go to a licensed physician and have a written statement and medical proof that you have a medical exemption so that you can turn that into your employer.”
The employer, Humble went on to say, can deny your exemption in writing.
“Without this bill on the books, currently at least there is some ambiguity as to whether your employer had a right to deny your religious exemption. And then the court would have to make the determination as to whether you were discriminated against,” Humble said.
“That is not a good scenario because the courts suck. So far in Tennessee neither the chancery courts, the circuit courts, or the federal courts have been on our side on this issue.”
“Putting this in law for the first time codifies it or says that your employer does have a right to deny your religious exemption if it is in writing.”
Humble went on to say that members of the Tennessee General Assembly don’t listen to the bill’s critics and don’t care what they have to say.
“At the end of the day [legislators] are going to do what they’re going to do. This is the governor’s bill. This bill, no matter how much noise we make, is going to pass. All the minions are going to fall in line with party line politics, and they are going to pass this bill on the floor with the language as is. And after it passes, they are going to tell you that this bill secures religious exemptions for all the healthcare workers,” Humble said.
“They are going to pat themselves on the back. Everybody will cheer. And it’s going to be on FOX News and Newsmax and all over conservative news that the Tennessee governor just protected religious exemptions and fought back against Biden’s federal overreach and this will be a campaign headline for the governor’s reelection. That is what this is.”
Watch the video:
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News. Follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Woman Wearing a Mask” by Surprising_Shots.