A Tennessee state representative has stirred up controversy with a Facebook post.
Rep. Sheila Butt of Maury County posted a comment on an open letter to Republican leaders calling on Republican presidential candidates to “engage Muslim voters, reject Islamaphobia.”
According to WKRN, Butt commented, “… It is time Council on Christian Relations and an NAAWP in this country.” She later clarified that this was not a reference to the National Association for the Advancement of White People, once led by former KKK leader David Duke. She meant it to be for “Western people” or “Western culture.”
Watch a report on the Republican’s comments below:
On Thursday morning, Butt addressed her fellow lawmakers and had this to say:
I would like to address something today regarding something that I had put on Facebook about a month ago. An acronym that I had made up. I must tell you that my words were never intended to offend anyone. To the contrary, I was discussing a post where we should all be included, everyone should have a seat at the table. The post was meant to be inclusive of every gender, culture, and religion. And I have to tell you today that I am so thankful to live in a country that we have a 1st amendment to speak our minds. I’ll stand for that amendment for myself, for my constituents, and for every one of you every single day. I am disappointed that some in this body misunderstood. I strongly believe that this nation is better off when we all adhere to our Christian values and beliefs, when we all work together to solve the problems that beset every single one of us. And this being divisive, and this trying to make something intentionally that was inclusive to be divisive, is something that should not happen in this body, and I am disappointed if it was misunderstood by many of you or some of you, but I stand today for every one of us, our First Amendment, our religious beliefs, our religious liberty in this body, in this state, and in this country. Thank you for your indulgence this morning.
But many are calling for Butt to apologize for her remarks, including some fellow Republicans such as the House Speaker, who has been quick to say that Butt’s views are her own and do not reflect the views of the party.
Black Caucus Chair Rep. Brenda Gilmore of Nashville said she was “left very sad… because we expected stronger leadership. The Republican Administration is not taking any action, so by their silence we take it they condone this behavior.”
However, Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada defended Butt, saying, “Representative Butt does not need to step down from her leadership position, and she has my full support as Caucus Chairman. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Black Caucus need to stop this foolishness and quit acting like they do in Washington, D.C.”