Bristol Herald Courier Article

Holder seeking congressional seat to

fight for working-class people

Leif Greiss

October 23, 2020

Steven Holder is seeking a seat in Congress so he can fight for working-class people and work to address poverty, systemic racism and human trafficking in Northeast Tennessee.

“I’m running because I’m tired of the millionaires and billionaires always running for political offices, getting elected and doing things that only benefit the wealthy,” Holder said. “It’s time that somebody runs that has no debt to pay to parties, no debt to pay to the rich people who help them to buy the elections.”

Holder, 65, is an independent candidate who is seeking to replace Phil Roe, the outgoing Republican who has represented Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District for more than a decade. The election is Nov. 3 and voters in the 1st District will vote for the next president, senator and congressman to represent them. In Sullivan County early voting started last week and will continue until Oct. 29.

Holder, of Johnson City is a retiree, author, minister and veteran. Like his rivals in the congressional race, Holder has never held elected office before.

“Neither does our current president,” Holder said. “When he was elected, he had none either. So that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

He said he wants to be an elected representative that puts people first and empowers them to build themselves up.

“That word servant is the way it should be, we should serve our people,” Holder said.

Holder said his top priorities are addressing regional poverty, human trafficking and systemic racism. One way to address poverty, Holder said, is to bring incentives that will encourage large corporations to come to the area and offer good-paying jobs.

“If we give people good jobs, and you know, there’s a great possibility that they’re going to be able to at least try to move out of poverty,” Holder said. “We need to do all we can to bring about free education or free college education that needs to be done, because if people could get a college education, then hopefully they can get a good job.”

He said he would work to expand laws and tools law enforcement and prosecutors have to find, arrest and convict human traffickers.

“There are parents selling their children into human trafficking for drugs,” Holder said.

Holder, who is white, said he wants to address systemic racism, which he said is built into the U.S. government.

“Our whole government was founded by and for rich white men,” Holder said. “For many, many years, women couldn’t vote, minorities couldn’t vote. It’s always been in favor of rich, and I do emphasize the word rich white men.”

Holder said if elected to Congress he would be happy to serve on any commission that would allow him to address his priorities of human trafficking, poverty and systemic racism. He said he would also like to serve on the Foreign Affairs committee.

Holder also told the Bristol Herald Courier he has a master’s degree in ministry and doctorate in ministry from Spirit of Truth Institute. His campaign website states he has a doctorate in ministry from Spirit of Truth. However, the Spirit of Truth Institute is not accredited by any agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

When contacted by the Bristol Herald Courier for comment, Holder said because Spirit of Truth Institute is a seminary it should not be held to the same standards as an academic institution.

“My credentials above the Bachelor level are not academic and I have never claimed otherwise. My call into the ministry was, and is, something that I have always felt was a spiritual matter, and it does not require the approval of secular organizations or private approval from any individual,” Holder states in an email.

Holder later added: “I worked hard on my doctorate degree.  I studied real books, and I took and passed real tests.  I received real grades and I got a real degree.”

However, many seminaries hold themselves to standards comparable to academic institutions and seek out accreditation for their master’s degree and doctorate degree programs from agencies recognized by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Such agencies include the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, the Association of Theological Schools as well as the Association for Biblical Higher Education.

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