Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Sen. Blackburn is a congregant of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. Christ Presbyterian is listed as her house of worship on her official Senate biography. She has claimed that she has been "attacked for being a woman of faith." On March 23, 2020, Sen. Blackburn used the phrase "Chinese Coronavirus" in a tweet, during a week when Stop AAPI Hate counted 650 reported incidents of anti-Asian discrimination. A study published in Health Journal and Behavior found that the 800+% increase in conservative media's use of terms like "Chinese Coronavirus" reversed 13 years of declining bias, amongst non-Asian respondents, against Asian Americans.
On May 4, 2020, Sen. Blackburn introduced the “Stop China-Originated Viral Infectious Diseases (COVID) Act.” This bill, like those proposed by Rep. Crenshaw and Sens. Cotton, Hawley, and McSally (see below), attributes financial and legal culpability to China for COVID-19’s spread in the United States. On May 27, 2020, Sen. Blackburn also sponsored the SECURE CAMPUS Act, which would bar Chinese nationals from enrolling in STEM-related American graduate programs. On July 20, 2020, Sen. Blackburn co-sponsored Sen. Martha McSally's "Civil Justice For Victims of COVID Act," which would allow American citizens to sue China in federal court for spreading the coronavirus. On July 23, 2020, Sen. Blackburn accused China of "murdering over 100,000 Americans and spreading the Chinese Virus."
On Dec. 3, 2020, Sen. Blackburn tweeted, “China has a 5,000 year history of cheating and stealing. Some things will never change…” As of Dec. 11, this tweet has been retweeted 12,000 times and liked by 24,400 Twitter users. Blackburn has refused to apologize.
Christ Presbyterian, headed by Pastor Scott Sauls, is a megachurch with an average weekly attendance of 2000 members as of 2015. The church’s website claims that it aims to give “special attention to, and generously channel our resources toward improving conditions and systems—whether spiritual, social, economic or vocational—for the poor, immigrants and refugees, ethnic and other minorities, and others who lack resources, opportunity, or privilege.” Nashville, the city where it is located, is home to a growing Asian population of approximately 23,897.
As of 2019, Tennessee as a whole was home to approximately 125,742 Asians. Between March 19 and August 5, 2020, 4 hate crime incidents in Tennessee were reported to Stop AAPI Hate (8).
10.30.21 update. Regarding the Blackburns' relationship to CPC, former member David Dark has remarked that without them, the church arguably wouldn't exist. This seems corroborated by the fact that the Blackburns contributed to CPC Academy's $10.5 million dollar renovation in 2014. Chuck Blackburn, an ordained deacon at the church, expressed support for the Republican effort to invalidate the 2020 election results on Jan. 4, 2021--two days before that effort culminated in the Capitol riots.
12.3.21. Exactly a year to the day after Blackburn tweeted that China had a "5,000 year history of cheating and stealing," she demonstrated her defiant reliance on racism by tweeting out a reference to the "Wuhan Virus."
For the latest regarding Christ Presbyterian Church's response, see the Timeline.