Today's Tennessean reported that Megan Barry made a preemptive move to counter charges that she is an atheist. I had not heard much about this prior to reading it in this morning's Tennessean, but had heard the vague rumor. I had chose to ignore it and not blog about it until Barry brought it up. Now that she has brought it up, I think it is fair game to question Barry's values and ask if she is hostile to people of faith.
I do not think one necessarily has to be Christian or a person of faith to be a good person. Also, one's personal religious believe is not much of a factor in whether or not I would support that person for public office. I personally think one can be a person of little faith or no faith and still be a good public servant and still be a good person, or one can be a person of strong faith and be a poor political leader. I think Jimmy Carter was a terrible president but I think he was a good man and a person of deep religious faith. I would prefer to have an atheist president or mayor who believes in balanced budgets and small government and personal liberty that have a liberal Christian who believes in prolific spending, who accumulates massive public debt and wants to impose their liberal concept of morality on other people. A profession or denial of faith in and of itself does not tell you a lot about a persons position on public policy matters.
The major reason to question Megan Barry's values is that she is married to Bruce Barry. To be fair, the beliefs of a husband and wife may not always mirror each other. The most obvious example of this is James Carville, Jr. the commentator and media personality who is a prominent figure in the Democratic Party, who is married to Republican political consultant Mary Matalin. How that marriage works I have no idea. I know I could not devote my self to a cause and be married to someone who is devoted to the opposite cause. More often than not a husband and wife have shared values.
Bruce Barry, is a columnist, blogger and current board member and past president of the ACLU of Tennessee. While on occasion I think the ACLU has been on the right side of defending free speech and has occasionally been on the right side of protecting other liberties, more often than not the ACLU seems driven by a desire to push people of faith out of the public square and to protect non believers from being offended by expressions of faith.
Bruce Barry was board president of ACLU of Tennessee from 1999 to 2009. During Barry’s tenure, the ACLUTN took several extreme positions:
- Fought the passage of “Choose Life” license plates in 2003.
- Opposed new restrictions on partial birth abortions in 2008.
- Opposed the National Day of Prayer in 2005.
- Fought the posting of the Ten Commandments in Monroe County in 2004 and requested their removal in Rutherford County in 2006.
- Barry criticized legislation that would protect students’ religious expression in public schools: Today at the Capitol: More Religion as Much as Possible.
- Barry implied the religious right wished to return to slavery: Faith Drives New Political Movement: Slavery?
- Barry said Belmont University was “bigoted” and employs discrimination because the school with a Christian mission dismissed a lesbian professor. In a piece titled Orienting for the future he wrote, "A Christian university can cloak its bigotry and discrimination in a shroud of religious doctrine, but that doesn’t compel its stakeholders to admire the fabric or the fit.”
- Barry argued collective bargaining is a “universal human right” in Labor Rights and Wrongs.
- Used disparaging language to describe Republicans and conservatives in a blog post, Feeling Better About Tennessee’s Unhinged State GOP, he said:
It’s pretty depressing this time of year looking in on the Tennessee legislature’s weekly wingnut chronicle — those persistent reminders of just how far our GOP led state can stray from sanity. Fortunately, for those of us dispirited by the rightwing mayhem that sucks all the rational air out of the room in Tennessee, scientific psychology offers an easy remedy: social comparison theory. In simple terms, we can shore up our self worth by comparing ourselves with others. The good news is it turns out Tennessee lacks a monopoly on unhinged conservatives.
This is only a sample. If one searches, one can find more that reveals a contempt for traditional values and people of faith. None of this of course even proves that Bruce Barry is an atheist, and it certainly does not prove that Megan Barry is an atheist, but I think it does show that the values of Bruce Barry or not the values of most Nashvillians and I think it is fair to assume Megan Barry shares her husbands values unless there is reason to believe she does not.