MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Democratic Tennessee state Rep. John DeBerry Jr., who represents District 90 in Memphis, is running as an Independent this November after his party removed him from the ballot because several of his positions do not align with the Democratic Party and for receiving donations from groups that characteristically back Republicans. DeBerry is pro-life, stands for biblical marriage and supports school choice.
In April, the Democratic Party State Executive Committee voted to remove DeBerry from the Aug. 6 primary ballot after a complaint was lodged in regard to his voting record and donations that he had received from GOP supporters. He was one of five candidates that the committee chose to remove based on challenges to their candidacy.
“After a long meeting in which we heard challenges and evidence, we did what we thought was best to protect the Tennessee Democratic Party and the values we stand for,” Chair Mary Mancini told the Commercial Appeal following the 41-18 vote with two abstentions.
DeBerry said that the choice should have been up to the voters and not an executive committee.
“I know who I am and what I have been and the example I have been in my district,” he stated. “This is why the folks in my district, who are very aware of who I am and what my beliefs are and what my record is, have elected me 13 times.”
DeBerry, who has preached at Coleman Ave. Church of Christ for the past 20 years, remarked last year that one of the root problems of abortion is personal responsibility.
“I choose to give girls self-esteem, self worth, to where they don’t feel that their bodies are just a vessel for somebody to play with and they don’t get themselves in that position,” he said, according to the Tennnesean. “I think that’s what’s being lost. Personal responsibility, pride, self-esteem — it makes a person walk away from those situations that get them in this position.”
“Because the woman ultimately has to bear the burden,” DeBerry continued. “The man walks away. The woman has to deal with it for the next nine months.”
He made the comments while supporting a heartbeat bill that sought to ban the murder of the unborn should the abortionist detect a heartbeat. DeBerry said that the matter was significant as heretofore, he was only presented with “little ancillary votes” surrounding the issue of abortion.
However, DeBerry reportedly stated that he would have preferred a rape and incest exception in the legislation.
In July, he was one of the lead signers of a letter spearheaded by Democrats for Life of America, which called upon the Democratic Party to “recognize the inviolable human dignity of the child, before and after birth” and provide “legal protection for pre-born children, improved prenatal care for women in need, especially women of color, alternatives to abortion, and a comprehensive culture of life free from violence, poverty and racism.”
Democrats were also not happy that the representative had voted in favor of a school voucher program, prompting the House Democratic Caucus and the Black Caucus to hold meetings about what to do with DeBerry.
Last month, DeBerry, who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960s with his father, delivered a speech that decried the looting and violence being carried out supposedly in the name of racial justice.
“All we do in America right now is talk about color. Every issue, every issue is about race, it’s about color, instead of us sitting down at the table in the name of common sense and common justice and understanding that our enemies are looking with a greedy vigilance upon us as we tear ourselves apart internally,” he lamented.
“[A]nyone with any common sense whatsoever would know that what we see is not peaceful,” DeBerry stated. “I have a nephew who is a policeman who talked about getting attacked the other night. You’re telling me that somebody has a right to throw feces and urine in the face of those that we as taxpayers pay to protect us, and that’s okay? What has happened to us?”
“If we don’t get this right right now — I’ve got grandchildren — I don’t want to see the country we’re going to have five, ten, fifteen, twenty years from now.”
According to reports, the vote to remove DeBerry from the Democratic Party ballot came after the filing deadline had passed, which would have prevented him from registering for the election under another party. However, lawmakers passed a bill that would allow him to be listed as an Independent rather than a write-in candidate.
“[E]ven though I’ve had opponents who have hammered me over and over about my stance on abortion, about my stance on the family and my stance on education,” he told Fox News, “[voters] have overwhelmingly elected me 13 times.”
“My work in Nashville as a legislator is nothing more than an extension of my work as a child of God, as a Christian,” DeBerry also explained to the Catholic News Agency. “And I take to heart Ephesians chapter 6, ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood.’ People are not the enemy,“ but “there are those who make laws that are blasphemous of God’s law.”
Romans 13 states that civil rulers are to be “the minister of God” for good, and “a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”