NASHVILLE (RNS) — Christian finance guru Dave Ramsey has endorsed proposed legislation in the Tennessee Legislature that would ban mask mandates as discriminatory.
Ramsey, who has railed against COVID-19 restrictions and said that masks are for “wusses,” released a video Wednesday (March 3) announcing his support for the “Medical Non-Discrimination Business & Consumer Act.” The bill would amend the state’s non-discrimination laws to ban businesses from denying services based on “the wearing or use of a medical device and whether a person has received medical treatment.”
In his video, Ramsey described the burdens business owners have faced during COVID-19, including loss of revenue and the expense of trying to keep employees and customers safe. That has been made harder by what he called “out of control” actions of government officials.
“On top of managing these risks and carrying this weight, business owners were also required to become agents of the government in enforcing COVID-19 mandates because local officials in too many Tennessee counties overreached their power,” he said.
Ramsey went on to claim that business owners “aren’t really concerned” with requiring people to wear masks but fear “being sanctioned, fined or shut down.”
In his opinion, “so many fear the government more than the actual virus. Optics instead of reality. That’s ridiculous.”
He said that while local officials had good intentions, the “inconsistent application of these mandates is beyond the pale.”
The Medical Non-Discrimination Business & Consumer Act is one of several pieces of legislation being promoted by Tennessee Stands, a conservative nonprofit that was started in response to the pandemic. The anti-mask group, which is reportedly run by a former craft beer brewer and preacher, claims Tennesseans’ freedoms are at risk.
“Have you had enough of lawless executive orders and mandates?” the Tennessee Stands website asks. “Then you’re in the right place.”
The website also features a video entitled “Freedom is not Free” that begins with a year-old clip of Dr. Anthony Faucci saying masks were not needed at that point. The video recounts the founding of the United States and lauds those who fought to “escape tyranny,” weaving together images of conservative activist Kitty Werthmann, president of the South Dakota Eagle Forum, speaking in 2013 about growing up under Hitler in Germany, illustrated with images of George Floyd-inspired protests and photos of burning buildings.
Tennessee Stands, which sells “I love facial nudity” and “Mask-free Tennessee” T-shirts, also has asked Tennesseans to sign a resolution demanding that the governor stop issuing COVID-19-related executive orders, promoted a bill to add religious exemptions from vaccine requirements and advocated for a state constitutional amendment to protect individual liberties during emergencies.
“Please act and put an end to the medical discrimination happening across our state and the damage being done to business owners who have no interest in being coerced into public policy and law enforcement roles,” reads a letter drafted by the group to promote the mask discrimination bill.
Ramsey, a popular figure in Tennessee based on his faith-inspired teaching on personal finances, has been an outspoken COVID-19 skeptic and masking critic since early in the pandemic.
“You would think that the black plague was coming through the U.S., listening to people whine,” he told his national audience in March of 2020. “You guys have lost your mind out there.”
He has continued ridiculing those who wear masks and downplaying concerns about the coronavirus. In December, he hosted a Christmas party at his company’s headquarters that drew hundreds of unmasked revelers.
Ramsey has required the nearly 1,000 employees to work in the office, despite an outbreak of COVID-19 at the company. Ramsey Solutions has also fired employees whose spouses questioned company policy and told employees that they should leave if they do not trust company leaders.
Ramsey Solutions has also been accused of violating anti-discrimination laws after a pregnant employee was fired because she was not married. In response to a lawsuit, the company claimed in court that having premarital sex violated company policy. The lawsuit is currently pending.
In his video, Ramsey states that his company, based just south of Nashville, employs nearly 1,000 people and was named one of the best places to work in America.