Kim Davis and Faith in the Workplace

 

Kim DavisKim Davis, the court clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples is going to jail for contempt of court. Her reasons for refusing to do so are because, in her own words, “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”

So quit your job, Kim. Problem solved.

I worked for ten years as a commercial/advertising photographer, and there were jobs I turned down on moral and religious grounds. I took a hit in the wallet for doing so, but I walked away with a clear conscience and good feeling knowing that there were just some things I would not do for money. Come to think of it, I’ve had moral qualms of one kind or another at just about every job I’ve had because I’m surrounded by people who don’t share my convictions. It’s not that I was asked to do anything illegal, but in every job, there are corners that can be cut and rules that can be bent. There were/are some lines I will not cross.

Yes, it’s more difficult to act like a Christian now than it was in, say, 1957 or thereabouts. However, how difficult was it for Paul, Barnabas, Aquila, Priscilla, et al., to live their lives in a culture and legal system that offered them no help whatsoever when it came to taking a stand for Christ? Despite that hostile environment, an environment in which thousands were killed for their beliefs, Christianity flourished and covered all of the Roman empire and the world. Maybe we need to take a long, hard look at the relationship between our faith, our culture, and our politics, and ask ourselves which of the three is truly most important in our lives.

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  1. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Let me remind people that our Constitution includes a ban on religious tests for public office.

    If we get to the point where people of deeply-held religious beliefs are not allowed to work in any specific government office without abandoning their religious beliefs, we have violated the constitution.

    • #61
  2. Reckless Endangerment Inactive
    Reckless Endangerment
    @RecklessEndangerment

    The whole point here is that the grounds for her having to give out the licenses is dubious. We have all kinds of prudential accommodations for people to live in civil society without violating their well-formed consciences, as long as they are within reason (key qualifier). The Left is out for a scalp here, that’s why you hear silence from anyone on the Left who doesn’t want her to go to jail.

    • #62
  3. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    KevinC:Furthering the discussion, is marriage primarily a civil, religious or cultural function?

    […..]

    I think civil marriage and religious marriage haven’t been one and the same since civil courts took over from ecclesiastical courts a few hundred years ago (someone smarter than me can contribute the actual timing – paging James of England).

    These are now separate institutions, though sometimes overlapping and sometimes concurrent. The fact remains that one can be civilly married without being religiously married. One can receive the religious sacrament without being civilly married. And certainly the consequences of each type are wholly different.

    I’m not sure there’s a sense of marriage aside from civil or religious. I’m pretty sure there’s not but I think I’m a minority on “nature of marriage” issues on Ricochet.

    • #63
  4. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    She either should have resigned or she should have used her state’s law as defense. What if Rabbis start performing SSM’s, would she refuse those too and elevate her Christian view over the would-be Jewish one? I think her state’s law was her only legitimate leg to stand on.

    • #64
  5. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    President Obama has refused to do his job and faithfully execute the law.  So please tell me the following:

    1) how is this different?

    2) Should Obama also be jailed?  Eric Holder as well, right?  How about Brown, in California, who refused to defend Prop 8?

    3) Why aren’t we saying to them:  “if you don’t like it, quit your job?”

    I see no reason to put up with this sort of double standard.

    • #65
  6. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    Consider the dynamic at play here. For starters, note that an elected official has just been imprisoned for following an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution approved by 75 percent of voters in a 2004 referendum. But none of that matters. Anthony Kennedy has spoken, capping off a decade-long project to impose same sex marriage on 320 million Americans. He managed this by torturing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, a post-Civil War provision fashioned to guarantee fair and equitable treatment to freed slaves and their descendants, into something unrecognizable.

    In his majority opinion, Anthony Kennedy writes:

    The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning [emphasis added].

    So one lawyer joins another foursome who will reliably vote for anything carrying the Progressive label and that’s the end of it. It’s time once again to move on. We have learned the meaning of liberty, and the Newspeak version includes sending an observant Christian to prison for refusing to affirmatively further an institution unthinkable until fifteen or so years ago; one that noted homophobe Barack Obama opposed until practically the day before yesterday.

    And now that the new tablets have been delivered from the mountain, Christians are expected to sit down, shut-up, and comply; reject their outdated heteronormative religion entirely; or retire from society and get out of the way. It’s the rule of law, man–or more accurately, justice.

    Whatever your thoughts on the advisability of same sex marriage as policy, a system of government where five unelected judges invent a new amendment to the Constitution, trumping the first true amendment and the tenth, is the very definition of tyranny.

    • #66
  7. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    The King Prawn:Are there other public official positions for which Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims need not apply?

    Certainly.  If you are Christian who firmly believes that the death penalty is immoral (I know many), serving as a judge in a state that utilizes the death penalty is a job you should not apply for.

    • #67
  8. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Frank Soto:

    The King Prawn:Are there other public official positions for which Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims need not apply?

    Certainly. If you are Christian who firmly believes that the death penalty is immoral (I know many), serving as a judge in a state that utilizes the death penalty is a job you should not apply for.

    But if you’re a liberal pacifist hippie who doesn’t believe in the death penalty, you take that job and refuse to uphold the law.  I don’t like our consistency on these questions.

    • #68
  9. Brandon Phelps Member
    Brandon Phelps
    @

    Sheila S.: Sheila S. Fake John Galt: Sheila S.: Ever occurred to you that she is doing her job? What is what her county wants is for her to do what she is doing? From what I can tell everybody upset about his are not from her county. As far as I am aware the government in our country is secular. It may draw many of its founding principals from Judeo-Christian traditions and values, but it is secular in form and function. To my mind that means that people representing the government cannot use their personal religious beliefs as a reason not to perform the requirements of their job. That has the function of taking away the secular form of government. If we let her do it, then how can we prevent a county clerk from issuing marriage certificates for polygamous marriages if their religious conscience dictates they do so?

    What is the difference between a personal religious belief and a personal secular belief?

    • #69
  10. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Ryan M:President Obama has refused to do his job and faithfully execute the law. So please tell me the following:

    1) how is this different?

    It’s not.

    2) Should Obama also be jailed? Eric Holder as well, right? How about Brown, in California, who refused to defend Prop 8?

    Yes, yes, and yes – or at least censured to the greatest degree possible (I don’t think jail was appropriate for Kim Davis either).

    But if you’re a liberal pacifist hippie who doesn’t believe in the death penalty, you take that job and refuse to uphold the law.

    And that judge should also be removed/impeached from office.

    I see no reason to put up with this sort of double standard.

    And I see no double standard. We criticize Democrats every day on Ricochet for failing to uphold the Constitution or for not carrying out their duties while in public office.

    • #70
  11. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    I haven’t read the other responses but here’s mine.

    I am not sympathetic with the argument that you should be able to refuse to do your job because you have certain religious beliefs or convictions of conscience. That would be absurd. But what is more absurd is that the consequences for not doing your job should include incarceration. That is profoundly disturbing. And it is a result of a fundamental misconception, namely, that courts can order other government actors and branches to do something. When a court overturns a law, it’s not ordering the executive branch of govt to do anything. It’s just saying, Do whatever you want, but if you bring a case like this again it won’t result ina conviction.

    But this is different. This is ordering a state to take certain specific actions. It has no authority to enforce such a decree. Any more than it has the authority to order the state legislature to pass a a law changing the state definition of marriage, and to incarcerate any legislator who votes against it.

    The clerk has no obligation to quit. If she continues in her position, it is because Kentucky allows her to. That’s on Kentucky.

    • #71
  12. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Mendel is seeing the commissioner’s signature on the ball (as Dennis Miller used to say). I think you’ve got the nuances nailed.

    • #72
  13. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    It appears that there have been more than a few public officials who defied gay marriage laws but who suffered no consequences. Why the double standard?

    Phil Lawler writes:

    In sending Davis to jail, Judge David Bunning made much of the fact that she had sworn to uphold the law. “An oath is an oath,” he said. But she took an oath to uphold the law, and she is upholding the law. If she certified that two men or two women are eligible to marry, that would be bearing false testimony.

    Lawler quotes R. R. Reno:

    So why the furor? Because her refusal poses a symbolic threat to “marriage equality” and its claim to realize the high ideals of justice. One word of dissent, one act of conscience, disturbs the serene confidence of progressives that they have a monopoly on all that is right and good.

    The entire article by Phil is great, and he ends with a flourish:

    The American legal system has usually treated conscientious objectors with great delicacy, honoring those who take a stand on principle. Not so with Kim Davis. The court had imposed a draconian punishment in her case, and the pundits have applauded. Because to acknowledge any merit in her case is to call into question the legitimacy of the Obergefell decision. Which is precisely why we should press her cause.

    Following one’s rightly formed conscience can be worthy and good.

    • #73
  14. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    I would back her if the hunters could just move to the next table and get their paper signed. This case is more complicated. The form she is asked to sign says that the marriage is authorized by her–it is by her authority. That is specifically what she complains of. And the State need not crush her or deprive her of her livelihood so long as a reasonable accommodation is available. There are other clerks…

    I think this was another targeted hit.

    Gary McVey:A White House speechwriter, Matthew Scully, wrote a book stating that as a good Christian, he could no longer condone the slaughter of animals. If this Kentucky clerk decides to go vegetarian and refuse to issue hunting licenses, what happens to her right wing friends then? Would they back her action on the grounds of “religious freedom”? How hard would they fight for her then?

    • #74
  15. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    @Mendel, I’m not accusing US of having a double standard. Nobody on the left should be allowed to criticize, and this woman sure as [CoC] shouldn’t be put in jail, until the exact same punishment has been imposed on Obama, Holder, et. al…

    • #75
  16. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    GFHandle: And the State need not crush her or deprive her of her livelihood so long as a reasonable accommodation is available. There are other clerks…

    What would it cost the state of Kentucky to provide this accommodation?  Virtually nothing.  It would, of course, set a precedent.  But it would be easy to limit the precedent: if the state can reasonably meet its obligations while accommodating the official’s conscience it should do so.

    • #76
  17. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    KevinC

    So quit your job, Kim. Problem solved.

    Well, that’s not so easy for a middle class or lower middle class person to do.  She took the job under certain circumstances and was in that job for years under those circumstances and now they changed under her.  I like what Jeb Bush said.  I’m sure the county could find an accommodation for her while the office fulfilling the obligations under the law.

    • #77
  18. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    I stoutly hate the phrase, “law of the land.”  Those five judges created no law but rather expressed an unenforceable, unsupported opinion.  The federal judge who threw her in the pokey said that he is above natural law, hence I conclude that he is above our Constitution which was firmly based on it.

    Christians are now being driven from the public square and jailed, and I’m surprised there are actually people on this site who think that’s somehow defensible.  She made bad decisions?  She’s held that office since before the LGBT war on Christians.  Are we to be Christians only for an hour on Sunday?  Shame on those who don’t defend her for being a devout Christian, or rationalize her persecution.

    Does anybody remember the founders’ primary sentiment for forming America?  Avoid religious persecution.  So now, in our so enlightened era, when a citizen doesn’t recognize a civil right to an aberrant behavior as defined by Christ Himself, that is her fault, and she must be shunned?

    We stand together or we’ll be torn asunder by Satan and his acolytes.

    • #78
  19. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Ryan M:@Mendel, I’m not accusing US of having a double standard. Nobody on the left should be allowed to criticize, and this woman sure as [CoC] shouldn’t be put in jail, until the exact same punishment has been imposed on Obama, Holder, et. al…

    Gotcha. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    • #79
  20. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    One country clerk decides not to follow federal law and she is in jail.

    Whole states have decided to not follow federal law and toke up a doobie and all is cool, man.

    • #80
  21. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    And speaking of our typical criticisms on Ricochet…

    Davis served as Rowan County chief deputy clerk, reporting to her mother, Jean W. Bailey, for 24 years. Kentucky law permits elected county officials to employ their family members and to determine their compensation; it is common practice in the state.

    In 2011, county residents complained about Davis’ compensation, an annual wage of $51,812 and an additional $11,301 in overtime and other compensation during 2011. Davis earned substantially more than the county’s other chief deputies, including $38,000 for the Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Cline and $36,000 to the Deputy Judge-Executive Jerry Alderman, neither of whom receive overtime pay. [emphasis mine]

    Leaving the SSM issue aside, doesn’t this woman seem to embody nearly every negative stereotype we have about government employees? Being hired by her own mother who got to set her salary sounds like a conservative parody of government employment.

    While this is obviously separate from the actual issue under discussion, my original point stands: once you take a job with the government, you make a bargain with the devil.

    (Granted, the quote is from Davis’ Wikipedia entry (which has probably been well-vetted by now). If someone has more accurate information, feel free to correct.)

    • #81
  22. KevinC Contributor
    KevinC
    @KevinCreighton

    Ed G.: I think civil marriage and religious marriage haven’t been one and the same since civil courts took over from ecclesiastical courts a few hundred years ago (someone smarter than me can contribute the actual timing – paging James of England).

    According to the best research I’ve done, it was Martin Luther who first advocated for civil, rather than ecclesiastical marriage, because he didn’t want the church messing around with the worldly matter of who was marrying whom.

    Whoops.

    • #82
  23. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Fake John Galt:In Kentucky, one county clerk out of 120+ counties clerks, in a backwater part of the state that most people of this country have never heard of and even less will visit is not following one federal law that has been in place less than a fortnight and everybody is calling for her head.

    . . .

    Why is this even in the news?

    Pour encourager les autres.

    • #83
  24. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    KevinC:

    Ed G.: I think civil marriage and religious marriage haven’t been one and the same since civil courts took over from ecclesiastical courts a few hundred years ago (someone smarter than me can contribute the actual timing – paging James of England).

    According to the best research I’ve done, it was Martin Luther who first advocated for civil, rather than ecclesiastical marriage, because he didn’t want the church messing around with the worldly matter of who was marrying whom.

    Whoops.

    As a Catholic I’m not falling over myself to validate Martin Luther, but I think this is not only a good idea I think it’s the reality of the situation. I think the different institutions serve different functions for different entities. We’ve been fortunate for so long that the two were basically complementary and concurrent, but there’s no reason they must remain so.

    • #84
  25. Adriana Harris Inactive
    Adriana Harris
    @AdrianaHarris

    Mendel:

    Misthiocracy:

    KevinC: So quit your job, Kim. Problem solved.

    She following Thoreau’s tenets of civil disobedience quite correctly by willingly going to jail. Quitting her job would mean admitting error, not only on her own behalf but on the behalf of every person that voted for her.

    The difference is that Thoreau was objecting to paying his taxes, an action to which the government was forcing him.

    Kim Davis made the active choice to take the job with the government – nobody forced her into that job. If she didn’t want to be subject to government policy on marriage, she could have chosen a different employer.

    When Kim Davis took the job marriage in Kentucky was between a man and a woman. She is being made an example of by the left; comply or we’ll crush you.

    • #85
  26. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Her incarceration is illegal, not because it violates her religious freedom (it doesn’t), but because it violates separation of powers. She can no more be incarcerated for her official actions or inactions, than the legislators making up the Kentucky legislature could be incarcerated if they refused to obey a court order to enact legislation to codify the Supreme Court decision.

    The courts know not to try to hold a legislature in contempt, because it wouldn’t be tolerated. So they pick on the smaller target. But legally, there’s no difference. Legislators are elected officials, and so is this clerk.

    • #86
  27. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Whether you fall on the side of the argument that she should resign or that she should fight, whether you think the state should accommodate her or not, whether you find her sympathetic or not, there is one central point: this is one front in a deliberate push to punish and marginalize Christians who hold convictions similar to those she expresses.

    This particular aspect is complicated even to someone willing to yield not an inch on religious liberty; her own background (including the appointment by her own mother) makes her a less sympathetic figure.

    Which goes to show that the battleground was well chosen.  But it’s not the first.  The question is not so much what should be done about this particular case, and more how this push should be responded to.  And saying “the Republicans should do such-and-such, but they won’t” is a cop-out.  Law, politics, culture, personal response — these are all different fronts.  It’s too big of a fight to leave to a political party.

    • #87
  28. KevinC Contributor
    KevinC
    @KevinCreighton

    Adriana Harris: When Kim Davis took the job marriage in Kentucky was between a man and a woman. She is being made an example of by the left; comply or we’ll crush you.

    The hypocrisy between the outrage over this and the silence on the non-action by the left on gun laws in Washington DC, California and elsewhere is breathtaking.

    • #88
  29. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    That judge needs to be tarred and feathered.

    • #89
  30. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Some people are never satisfied – though to give the Devil his due, they’re consistent.

    • #90
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