published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, business leaders discuss faith at office

Gov. Bill Haslam says he was led to run for governor by his faith, which gave him a sense of responsibility.

"Not in the sense that I think God said, 'You should be the governor,'" Haslam said Tuesday after the Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Chattanooga, "[but] I have the responsibility, I think, to serve in a way that reflects what he's called me to do."

More than 1,500 gathered in the Chattanooga Convention Center on Tuesday morning to pray, read Scripture and discuss the role of Christianity in the work place.

In his address at the breakfast, Haslam related the story of the Israelites' captivity in Babylon and urged the audiences to heed advice found in the book of Jeremiah to continue raising families, conducting business and trying to make the best even in difficult circumstances.

Keynote speaker John Beckett, chairman of the multimillion-dollar R.W. Beckett Corp. and author of "Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul" and "Mastering Monday: A Practical Guide To Integrating Faith and Work," discussed his spiritual transformation following the death of his father, who left him the company at age 26.

Beckett urged business leaders in the audience, several of whom led the crowd in prayer and Scripture readings, to introduce their faith to their workplaces. He noted that such actions did not have to be bombastic or off-putting to nonbelievers. Rather, he suggested that managers look to their faith to be more empathetic with workers and cooperate to solve problems civilly.

"There's a tremendous hunger out there to bring faith and work together," he said.

Speaking after his presentation at the breakfast, Haslam discussed the end of the Tennessee Legislature's current session, speaking proudly of new higher penalties for domestic abusers and the government's crackdown on prescription drug abuse. He also said he is happy the state was allowed to get off the federal No Child Left Behind education requirements and set its own school standards.

"We were able to cut taxes, particularly the state tax on groceries, which is significant, as well as the estate tax," he added. "That was the place to start."

The sales tax on groceries will fall from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent on July 1.

The estate tax legislation increases the exemption from $1 million to $1.25 million.

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