Voters side with two mayors, new Council to defeat English Only
An English Only proposal was defeated Thursday night in Nashville after over 40,000 voters stood up in opposition to the measure. The rejection aligns Nashville’s voters with the current Metro Council, current Mayor Karl Dean, and Dean’s predecessor Bill Purcell.
Former Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed a similar measure when it came across his desk in 2007; current Mayor Karl Dean has vigorously opposed this year’s version; and the current Metro Council passed a resolution by a 3-1 margin urging Nashville voters not to sign the petition putting the measure on the ballot in the first place.
English Only was defeated tonight by a margin of 57-43%. Amendment #2 failed by an even larger margin. An unprecedented, citywide coalition formed in opposition to both measures.
Filed under About Nashville for All of Us, Action, Amendment #2, Faith, Freedom, Hospitality, Litigation, Safety, Stewardship, Terminology, Testimonials, The importance of learning English, Who brought this to Nashville?
Image by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Even with approximately 70 posts to date, this blog has not reproduced all of the written opposition to English Only in Nashville, nor could it ever. Because today is the day of the special election and the last day to vote, however, the best we can do with the “waiting list” of those comments, letters, columns, blog posts, other statements of support, and news that have so far gone unpublished here is to link to as much of them as we can in list form below.
Our apologies to those whose public statements and endorsements have not been included here – and there are many of you. We know that everyone who has spoken out against the charter amendments in any context is a part of this effort.
Thank you! Continue reading
Filed under About Nashville for All of Us, Action, Faith, Freedom, Hospitality, Litigation, Safety, Stewardship, Terminology, Testimonials, The importance of learning English, Who brought this to Nashville?
Rodney Beard of Living Word Community Church speaks out against English Only in this post on Faith Leaders for All of Us:
I love Nashville! I also understand the frustration surrounding local immigration issues and have even shared some popular sentiments a time or two. But I cannot, in good conscience, support the English Only initiative.
Wouldn’t the money we spend fighting this be better spent by providing more English as Second Language classes in our schools, churches and community centers?
The governing body of the Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville has voted to oppose English Only. From the Church’s statement published on Faith Leaders for All of Us:
The “English only” requirement does not acknowledge the linguistic diversity that has always characterized the U.S. (the result of many factors, including voluntary migration, conquest, employment policies, and compassion toward refugees) and continues today.
Furthermore it does not manifest the hospitality toward immigrants and refugees that we have every reason to expect in our public and private life.
We urge the citizens of Nashville to vote No on Amendment One.
Educators at Belmont University have issued an open letter opposing English Only, with the list of the staff and faculty signing the letter running 10-1/2 pages long. Here are excerpts:
[W]e join our university’s president, Dr. Robert Fisher and the presidents of Nashville’s other universities, in standing against the English Only initiative. We oppose the measure because we believe the initiative will serve to diminish the opportunities for broadening our students’ perspective, which our community now offers in abundance. We believe that the measure and the message its adoption would send to the rest of the world will create a culturally impoverished environment in our city. We are concerned that it will damage our economy by making it much more challenging for our city to attract global investment and to welcome international visitors.
On this issue, we cannot help but be reminded of the admonition to welcome charitably the strangers and to treat them as our own native born (Leviticus 19:33-34) and to practice hospitality as Paul urged the early Christian communities to do (Romans 12:9-13). In our view, by placing barriers to the ability of our visitors to participate in our community, especially when they are first arrived and not yet proficient in our language, the English Only measure is both uncharitable and inhospitable.
Rev. Dennis J. Meaker
Rev. Dennis J. Meaker of the West Nashville United Methodist Church published this message regarding the significance of the English Only referendum from the perspective of the Christian scriptures. Here is an excerpt:
The biblical command to extend hospitality is not limited to those of our faith. It is particularly ironic, however, that self-professed Christians are so willing to exclude their brothers and sisters in Christ by reinforcing the barrier of language. As noted in 1 John 4:20-21:
“Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
By the time you read this article, early voting will be open in Davidson County. The English-only referendum is not a political issue that the church is supposed to avoid. It strikes at the heart of what we profess to believe. As you go to vote, and please do vote, remember Christ is present in every person around us, even those who do not speak English.
In this YouTube video published on the home page of Nashville for All of Us, a number of Nashvillians say why they are voting against English Only, including Mayor Karl Dean, Bishop David Choby, Anastasia Brown, Tom Oreck, Rev. Sonnye Dixon, and Buck Dozier.
Rabbi Shana Goldstein Mackler
Standing up against English Only, Rabbi Shana Goldstein Mackler of The Temple invokes Yom Kippur and “the opportunity to acknowledge a wrong and to do something about it:”
One of the most beautiful reasons I am proud to make my home here in Nashville was that this is a City of Refuge, a place where immigrants come for safety, freedom from persecution and degradation, and for a chance at a better life. We all know people who have been welcomed by this city, who have been sponsored and cared for by our citizens and our community. Still, despite the fact that research on immigration into Nashville shows immigrants wanting to learn English, wanting to acculturate, wanting to become citizens, fears and stereotypes of foreigners abound.
This fear has enabled and engendered a piece of legislation that flies in the face of who we are as Jews, as Americans, and as citizens of Nashville: the English-Only initiative that is on the special ballot calling for a vote this month. Continue reading
If Jesus came to Nashville speaking Aramaic, this item might appear on a few Christmas lists.
In a Christmastime letter to the editor of the Tennessean, Nashvillian Karl Warden considers Jesus’ native language of Aramaic and poses this question:
Would you require Christ to speak English if Christ came to Nashville?
Read the entire letter here.
Coalition for Education about Immigration
The Nashville-based Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI) has launched its web site at http://educationaboutimmigration.com/
CEI explains its origins here:
In 2006 anti-immigration rhetoric was intensifying in the Nashville community. Myths and misconceptions about immigrants and immigration along with corresponding vitriolic conversations seemed to be proliferating on national and local radio talk shows. An idea that originated in the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jewish Federation in 2006 expanded to a series of exploratory meetings with immigrant advocates, including members of Conexión Americas and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). Discussions that ensued led to the formation of the Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI). From the onset, the founding members of CEI believe that when provided with accurate information, the Nashville community will draw reasonable, educated conclusions of their own. What began with a concern of a half dozen community members grew, in a short time, to a grassroots membership of nearly 300 individuals and more than a dozen loosely affiliated organizations.
CEI has also published this PDF with background information on English Only.
Bishop Richard Wills, the bishop of the Nashville Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church, recently sent a pastoral letter to congregations in Middle Tennessee about the English Only referendum. Bishop Wills invokes the Season of Advent as he urges congregants to “provide a welcoming, hospitable community for God’s people.”
The pastoral letter is available in full at FaithLeadersforAllofUs.com
Dozens of local religious leaders have joined to oppose the referenda, in a group calling itself Faith Leaders for All of Us:
As religious leaders in Nashville/Davidson County, we have watched with interest and concern the movement to establish English as the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville. … We come from a variety of religious traditions, but we are united in our opposition…
Click here to visit the full site: faithleadersforallofus.com