Runners gathered Sept. 1 to participate in “Let’s Finish Liza’s Run” in Memphis to honor the life and remember the death of Eliza Fletcher. She was killed one year ago, allegedly by Cleotha Abston Henderson, who will stand trial.
When Liza didn’t return from her early morning run, Memphis mothers and others sprang to action, posting on socials to help find her and bring her home. Sadly, there was no happy ending.
Tucker Carlson, now fired from Fox News, used this horrific event in Memphis to stoke fear of crime-ridden cities and dangerous people. I spoke to his fear mongering here.
We are angry, foremost, that our systems of government and the people of our country turned a blind eye rather than protect women from violence, abuse and crime. Women are less safe in the state of Tennessee than ever before. There is no safe avenue for abortion in the state of Tennessee, forcing women to give birth against their will, risking their lives.
Gun safety laws are nonexistent despite the recent sham special session called by Gov. Bill Lee. He falsely claimed this session would allow lawmakers to enact common-sense measures to control gun violence in the wake of the Covenant School mass shooting in Nashville.
Mothers were seen on video begging our lawmakers, with tears streaming down their faces, to protect their children. They were met with avoidance or outright threat of violence, as large male state troopers physically removed them from committee meetings for holding a small 8-by-10 sign.
Rape kits aren’t being timely processed in the city of Memphis, a common complaint in many places, leading women to ask the question if it is even worth the trauma they endure to report, if law enforcement will not treat them with the respect they deserve.
It seems as if this practice directly led to the death of Liza Fisher, as another woman had reported the same man for rape. The rape kit testing was delayed, and the accused was not arrested. Law enforcement was useless to the woman who suffered the crime and horrible trauma of being raped with no consequences for her rapist and dire future consequences for other women.
Women are in danger of being raped, murdered, killed by a gun or in childbirth here in Tennessee and across our country. But here in Tennessee, as long as the privileged conservative white men are in charge, nothing will change. Because if we look very closely, we can see they like it this way.
“Here in Tennessee, as long as the privileged conservative white men are in charge, nothing will change.”
They like women to be afraid for their own lives and for the lives of their children. It upholds the status quo, disallowing women from holding any sort of power and enacting change to the betterment of all. We observed that status quo being acted out in front of our eyes in Nashville last week.
Women and all people deserve better. We know this because of our faith, because we believe all are created in the image of God. Created equally.
This ideal formed the birth of our country, and while as Baptists we must uphold the strictest separation of church and state, we must also come to terms with the fact that we must do much more to bring forward a more perfect union — a multi-racial democracy where all are truly equal.
I worked on a church staff several years ago with a white man, an ordained minister who was not registered to vote. I admonished him upon hearing this. How can you not vote as a practicing Christian and as an example in ministry to others?
My question to many of you who do exercise your right and privilege to vote is this: How can you vote for candidates who have shown us they are only interested in their own power over others? Who have shown us they make laws that protect their own power instead of protecting others?
Two districts in the state of Tennessee went back to the ballot box again to elect Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who had been ousted from their elected positions in the state legislature because they challenged the status quo in the fight over gun control. They again were punished during this special session along with the mothers who showed up en mass to protest the callous inaction of GOP lawmakers — like Cameron Sexton — who were in control of the session.
“We won’t stop fighting because democracy requires disrupters.”
Justin Jones said on X, “My Republican colleagues turned their backs on grieving mothers demanding common-sense gun laws and dragged them from committees. The Covenant families and all those impacted by gun violence deserve so much better. We won’t stop fighting because democracy requires disrupters.”
Jesus was a disrupter. We can see this over and over again in the Gospels. He continuously left folks surprised and shocked by his actions and his words. We ought to do the same.
There is a price to be paid for sure, but our faith requires that we speak up, act, vote, see women and others as full human beings created by God who deserve to thrive. We should disrupt as Jesus did by listening to women for a change here in Tennessee.
This is our calling as Christians, to spread gospel good news from the testimony of women crying in the wilderness, to make straight the way of the Lord:
- Guns are weapons of violence and destruction.
- Women can be trusted to make their own choices about their own bodies.
- Rape kits should be tested.
- Voting is a duty.
- Power is to be shared.
But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God. — John 3:21
Julia Goldie Day is an ordained minister within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and lives in Memphis, Tenn. She is a painter and proud mother to Jasper, Barak and Jillian. Learn more at her website or follow her on socials @JuliaGoldieDay.
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