State Rep. Eric Watson, “Jesus would not approve” re: Occupy Nashville
Occupy Chattanooga protester Beth Foster wrote an open letter to her state rep Eric Watson, sponsor of HB2638 the "Anti-Occupy" bill (now scheduled for Calendar & Rules Committee 2/14), and got a direct response from Rep Eric Watson, instead of the normal form letter. In the response, Watson says that "Jesus would not approve" and continues to contend that Occupy Nashville is exploiting the homeless, and "such exploitation is condemned by Jesus and his followers".
We have to wonder if the same religious figure would approve of Rep. Eric Watson's statement that those that don't support his bill should be "pee'd" on? ?Yea, we couldn't even make this stuff up.
Read the full response & letter below. We'll start with the response from State Rep. Eric Watson:
From: Eric Watson <firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject: In Response to Beth Foster, An Open Letter to State Rep. Eric Watson Regarding the Anti-"Occupy" Bill
To: Bethney Foster
It's good to hear from you, and I hope you are doing well. I'm surprised that you approve of the crime, open sexual acts, and open urination on the Capitol grounds and Veterans Fountain that has been going on since Occupy Nashville has been on the War Memorial Plaza. We as the legislature are trying to stop these types of actions Occupy Nashville has done nothing to stop these types of actions. I'm sorry that you have been misinformed about my piece of legislation. This is not a homeless bill; it's a bill that gives equal access to all protesters including the Occupy Nashville folks. Occupy Nashville can still protest 24hours a day, 7 days a week if they chose to do so. Nothing in my bill can stop them. The bill prohibits a permanent or temporary dwelling on state property that is not intended for residential use. In my opinion the situation has gotten out of control, if you don't believe this, you should watch some of the Occupy Nashville videos that I have watched. You of course have every right to agree or disagree with this statement.
Like you I live by Biblical principles. While you may approve of these criminal and open sexual acts that have taken place on our Capitol grounds; Jesus would not approve.
I share your concern for the homeless. Our government and faith based organizations work diligently to meet the needs of the homeless. In this situation the Occupy Nashville movement has actually exploited the homeless for their own political benefit. Such exploitation is condemned by Jesus and his followers.
Thank you for sharing your opinions regarding my legislation. It is a great honor to serve you and the people of Bradley, Meigs, and Polk Counties.
Rep. Eric Watson
And here is the open letter written to Eric Watson: From: Bethney Foster
Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2012 11:04 AM
Subject: An Open Letter to State Rep. Eric Watson Regarding the Anti-"Occupy" Bill
I am a Christian, an occupier and one of your constituents. I live in Cleveland and we have met on a few occasions at various functions in the community, especially during the time that I worked as an associate editor at the Cleveland Daily Banner. Today I operate a small business, working 12-14 hours most days. In addition to that work, I have a part-time job, work as a freelance writer a few days every month, and volunteer at least a few hours every week. In addition to all of that, I find time to be active politically as part of the Occupy movement.
I do not begin most correspondence by discussing my religion, but I know that your faith is important in your life. I want to appeal to you on the basis of our shared beliefs. I also do not begin most correspondence by discussing my work schedule, but I know there is a misconception of occupiers as lazy, unemployed hippies; and, I want to address that stereotype regarding my lifestyle from the first paragraph of this letter.
The Occupy movement caught my heart from the very moment it began in our nation. I am sickened by and tired of seeing my fellow human beings and citizens homeless, hungry, enslaved by debt, unable to get their health care needs addressed, unable to find work, denied access to their government — all in the name of corporate greed and so that those who already have so much can have more.
My faith tradition is in the Baptist church and I probably spent more time occupying pews and attending Sunday school than I did at home or school or anywhere else during my childhood. My parents ensured that their children went on mission trips, felt an obligation to see and to respond to suffering in this world, and to answer that Macedonian call when it is given. I credit the church with making me into one who does not fear, but indeed feels an obligation, to fight for social and economic justice, to work towards ensuring that all of God's children have their needs met, and to be part of any movement that casts the moneychangers out.
The Occupy movement seeks to do all of this and more. As a Christian, it gave me a place to speak, act and work towards all that I saw in this world that was so different from the way in which my faith told me we should interact and live with our fellow human beings, animals and earth.
I was so disappointed to see that my elected representative was the one who sponsored a bill targeting the very essence of this movement.
I would ask you to use your time, instead of seeking to end this movement, to hear the message of this movement. The goals of Occupy go straight to the heart of what we are called upon to do and to be as followers of Jesus Christ — to defend the poor, to house the homeless, to feed the hungry, to care for the sick, to free the slave and to be the light of the world; and, through that to show the love of our Savior.
It is a radical message, but Jesus was a radical. He was executed by the state for just such a message.
While your target with this bill is the Occupy movement, I would implore you to consider that this bill also makes it illegal to be homeless. Is that what Jesus would do?
In solidarity with Occupy Nashville,
Yours in Christ,
And here is the open letter written to Eric Watson:
From: Bethney Foster