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Kim Davis Is No Martyr
Ted Cruz made his feelings clear about defiant county clerk Kim Davis: “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith.” Mike Huckabee said, “having Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country.”
Mat Staver, who is representing Davis in court, compared her to several Christian martyrs. “Kim joins a long list of people who were imprisoned for their conscience,” Staver said. “People who today we admire, like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan Hus, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and more — each had their own cause, but they all share the same resolve not to violate their conscience.”
Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her faith, she is facing the consequences of violating the law. Davis was elected to execute the clerk duties of Rowan County, Kentucky, and she refused to do that. I agree that tossing her in the clink seems like overkill, especially when federal officials can violate Americans’ rights with near impunity, but she suffered this fate due to her illicit actions, not her spiritual beliefs.
The Davis story reminds me of an ancient Christian sect Ricochet member Midget Faded Rattlesnake brought to my attention. Seeing how much reverence was given to martyrs, a bizarre little group called the Circumcellions decided to get in on the action.
On occasion, members of this group assaulted Roman legionaries or armed travelers with simple wooden clubs to provoke them into attacking and martyring them. Others interrupted courts of law and verbally provoked the judge so that he would order their immediate execution (a normal punishment at the time for contempt of court)…
Because Jesus had told Peter to put down his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11), the Circumcellions piously avoided bladed weapons and instead opted for the use of blunt clubs, which they called “Israelites.” Using their “Israelites”, the Circumcellions would attack random travelers on the road, while shouting “Laudate Deum!” (“Praise God!” in Latin.) The object of these random beatings was the death of the intrepid martyr, who sought to provoke the victim to attack and kill him.
Circumcellions weren’t executed for boldly living their faith in an intolerant society. They were executed for being violent, lawless jerks. Their “martyrdom” pointed not to the glory of God, but to their own moral vanity. Even if we assumed the Westboro loonies were Christians, they are loathed for their hatred, not their holiness.
Davis and many other Americans of all faiths disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, but it is now the law of the land. Many conservative believers disapprove of no-fault divorce, free speech rights for pornographers, and many other irreligious laws, but that is the result of living in a secular, pluralistic America. You may choose not to engage in those behaviors, but you can’t stop others from exercising their rights.
If Davis wants to live her faith with a clear conscience, she should render unto Caesar by tendering her resignation. Refusing that, she at least should allow her staffers to issue marriage licenses in accordance with the law. If, after that common-sense decision, secularists continue to attack her, she will have legitimately earned a small measure of martyrdom.
What Davis, Cruz, and Huckabee don’t realize (or more likely, won’t admit) is that being a Christian puts you in tension with a secular world. My faith has impacted my professional life repeatedly, but that hardly means martyrdom.
Fresh out of college, the best paying graphic design jobs I could find were among the glitzy new casinos opening in Vegas. They offered not only large paychecks, but high budgets so I could create the most luxurious, Trumpian full-color ads, brochures and mailers. But I didn’t apply. I don’t oppose gambling but did I want to spend 50 hours a week enticing spendthrifts to blow their paychecks at a craps table? It felt wrong.
Another well paying job was for a rapidly growing adult superstore chain (I believe they’re national, but won’t check their website in case the Mrs. scrolls through our web browser history. [“Really honey, I was researching a story on Christian martyrdom; I promise!”]) As with gambling, I’m fine with people flying their freak flag in whichever position they choose, but it’s not my scene.
As I grew in my career and faith, I grew even more selective. A bank offered a fantastic art director position, but their primary marketing technique was “You deserve a new boat/nicer car/larger house!” Their largest money maker required false flattery and poor stewardship; I rejected the job. (A year later, the easy-credit economic collapse hit. Glad I followed my conscience.)
I could have gone the Kim Davis route and taken one of those jobs anyway. When my boss yelled at me for only designing Bellagio flyers hyping nearby churches, or sex shop ads insisting on abstinence outside of marriage, I could have claimed persecution. But these companies would have tossed me out on my halo — not to violate my religious liberty, but because I wasn’t doing my job.
A devout Muslim won’t work as a pulled pork chef. An observant Jew won’t take a job where she’s forced to work on the Sabbath. If Kim Davis wants to exercise her faith in the public sphere, she should take a job that doesn’t violate her conscience.Published in Law, Religion & Philosophy
Better put another hamster on the server wheel. This one could go big.
By the way, the ancient Circumcellions sound awfully similar to modern-day Islamist terrorists.
I’m shocked that a news story this big hasn’t created much discussion on Ricochet. Hopefully, this is the thread that will get a discussion going.
… well …
At the same time, if there is no reason to have her actual name attached to marriage licenses, that doesn’t seem like a difficult thing to accommodate. I’d agree with your analysis when it comes to the private sphere, but government is a bit different. Until we can dismantle it entirely, I don’t like the idea of it being a “safe place” only for the irreligious. That strikes me as having the potential for negative consequences, given the massive size/scope/power of our government.
“Better put another hamster on the server wheel. This one could go big.”
Cue “Eye of the Tiger”!
Yeah! Release the rodent horde to power the comments!
Too bad the Supremes didn’t create a law that you say she won’t follow. Consult the 1st, 10th, & 14th amendments, please. As I’ve said before, our nation likely can’t create a law, under the Constitution, that would hinder a Christian from serving in a public capacity. Why do so many elide right by the fact that LGBT marriage is NOT the law of the land, and argue against her as if she’s a scofflaw.
Quite so, Ryan. Your first idea could be implemented in 15 minutes. The second is what we pray for. Do we need sanctuary cities for Christians in the meantime?
Ted Cruz is right. As usual.
What if, say, a person working at the Family Court decided that divorce was wrong, against God’s law, etc., and in following their conscience they declined to allow people to petition the court for a divorce hearing?
That would be stupid, right?
No one said you had to like or approve of the work you perform. If it’s that big a hassle for you, for any reason, feel free to get another job at any time.
It can be entirely accommodated. Someone else in the office can sign. Problem solved.
I’m commented out on this topic. Just a pre-emptive request, lay off calling my neighbors hicks and rednecks. First, they’re hillbillies. This is an important distinction. Second, they’re my neighbors, and they’re good people and mostly just want to be left alone.
The examples you gave were jobs you didn’t take because you knew what they required beforehand. That’s not what happened with Kim Davis. She’s doing her job and one day someone tells her she has to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, which has no precedent In human history.
Also, as far as I know, she didn’t violate any law. Cite the law she violated. A court case is not a law. The extent to which it can be treated as such and enforced as such is not clear. Courts can refuse to enforce laws if they find they are unconstitutional, but that doesn’t require other branches of govt to do any thing. The court is acting within its own sovereign jurisdiction. Obergefell goes beyond this. It amounts to the court actually telling states or other branches what they must do. To agree that they have this power is to deny the concept of separation of powers. Can Congress tell the Supreme Court how it must rule on a particular case?
I wonder what Davis would have done if KY had voted to allow SSM democratically.
In this instance she’s being asked to violate her oath to uphold the constitution by enforcing a lawless supreme court decision.
Well, I don’t know that Davis sought an accommodation the way she should have, but I think you’re taking a stealer’s lead off first if you’re not completely off base here.
Kentucky allows accommodations for vegetarians who work in the fish and wildlife licensing department if they are uncomfortable with issuing licenses to kill animals. Seems someone in the chain of bureaucratic command here could have simply delegated this role to the deputies as ended up happening without all this drama. What’s more, when Davis was elected to the post SSM wasn’t part of the job. It got added after the fact, so while we’re all very proud of your ethical record in your career path, you knew going in what the jobs you refused to do were all about. Davis had this new duty foisted upon her by the courts.
So maybe Davis is a drama queen who could’ve handled this better but I think your criticism is both over the top and a bit too smug.
The Huckabee circus outside the jail didn’t help her cause.
If Kim Davis is to be jailed for not obeying “the law of the land,” then so too should the Democrat politicians running every sanctuary city in America.
Et tu, Jon?
As upset as I’ve been with the mainstream media for missing the most important part of the story, from them I expected it. I thought at least back home at Ricochet we would give the balanced account.
Two words old friend: Religious Accommodation.
That’s not a gift to a worker – it’s “the law of the land.” If she were a Federal Clerk Title VII would grant her a religious accommodation, as stated thusly on President Obama’s Department of Labor website:
Title VII requires federal agencies, upon notice of a request, to reasonably accommodate employees whose sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances conflict with work requirements.
Since she is a Kentucky clerk, she gets the benefit of this religious accommodation statute there:
âSECTION 1. A NEW SECTION OF KRS CHAPTER 446 IS CREATED TO READ AS FOLLOWS:
Government shall not substantially burden a person’s freedom of religion. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be substantially burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A “burden” shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
Lost in the reporting here is that Kim Davis did not refuse to license gay marriage without first trying to make sure gays had access to them without her.
The accommodation she requested required only the following:
1. For someone other than herself to authorize the deputies, so she isn’t taking part;
2. To have her name removed from the license.
So she went to the Governor. He took the position that he wanted the legislature to do that, and they don’t meet until January.
That was bull, and if you are looking for the bad guy here blame the Governor. The Clerk’s office is part of the executive branch. With an executive order he could have accomplished both of those things. Stroke of his pen.
But he refused. So Kim was faced with violating her religious conscience or refusing the gays a license. She made a fair compromise: Since Kentucky allows folks to go to ANY county, she stopped giving licenses to anyone, instructed them to get them at another county, but only until January when her LAWFULLY REQUIRED religious accommodation could be addressed.
Again, the Republican Governor could have ended this at any time, but I suspect the anti-gay bigot is him, not Kim Davis.
Any reporting that Kim Davis simply said gays can’t get married in her county because God said so is misreporting.
But the country has itself a Christian scapegoat and she is going to be jailed, ridiculed and misrepresented so long as we ignore the facts.
Sounds like a Christian martyr to me.
It seems convoluted that she was ordered jailed by a federal judge when there is a federal title supporting her and she was performing duties in a Kentucky state office.
That is interesting, isn’t it. When the dust settles, she is going to win that accommodation in a state court, which will be dutifully reported on section J, page 14, below the fold on a Friday night edition of the NY Times.
Thank you for expanding on this. Most of this has been left out of the reporting on the case.
“Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her faith, she is facing the consequences of violating the law.”
Actually, it’s both. I’m not sympathetic to Davis’ failure to exercise her duties without finding an alternative route, including resignation, to comply with the law. However, the idea that the punishment fit the crime, and didn’t amount to de facto “persecution,” is a big stretch. Is it only the left (see Occupy Wall Street) that can practice civil disobedience with minimal consequences?
That she would not allow deputies in the office to sign licenses is her most telling fatal flaw. I’m totally with Jon. Her boss is the state, and her job is to do the work of the state, whatever that is, however it changes, or quit. Instead, she wants to assert that she was elected county clerk to do the work of God.
Tommy’s comment should be required reading before anyone comments on this issue.
Yeah, I defer to those who know the law on this subject as to what, if anything she violated and why or why not she can be accommodated, if other folks there can sign (this can’t possibly be the only thing there she’s responsible for) but I don’t think the whole “shouldn’t have taken the job, then” line is really fair.
I’ve turned down potential jobs on principle, too – – but I was also once already established for years at a place that suddenly changed my job description and assigned me exclusively to a client with whom they knew I had some serious faith-based objections. Those were two very different situations.
Tommy De Seno nailed this one. Great work.
Doesn’t federal Title VII also apply to state and local government officials? The EEOC website says that it does.
In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, earlier this year, SCOTUS held (correctly, in my view) that Abercrombie & Fitch had to accommodate a Muslim job applicant who wore a head scarf for religious reasons. The same argument applies to Kim Davis’s action.
Question: I have heard or read, not sure where, that even if a deputy approves a marriage license on her county, it is issued with her name on it. Is this true? Anyone? Sabrdance? Bueller?
@ Arizona Patriot and Tommy De Seno
The issue is that Abercrombie is a private firm and originally the federal clerk title applies to federal clerks not state government clerks. Unless it implicitly or explicitly says it also applies to county clerks in that Abercrombie case then Davis won’t win on those grounds of precedent immediately.
At the same time I agree that the drama on this is a waste. The SS couple could have simply went to another county or a deputy could have written the consent for Davis. It is also true that Davis could have simply resigned (nothing was stopping her) and even then she was jailed for failing to execute her duties. On the issue of the governor as Seno pointed out I disagree because you can’t exactly blame the governor, he doesn’t write law but merely enforces. Likewise with SCOTUS decisions and laws it’s the executive branch that enforces that and it has discretion.
There are mistakes on both sides but Kim Davis is far from a martyr.
Title VII is part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and it applies to State governments.
Also as I pointed out, Kentucky also has a religious accommodation law that governs here too.
No, I think this is misrepresenting and over-interpreting her motives. According to Eugene Volokh’s update of his WaPo article, the accommodation she’s asking for is that the licenses (currently all marriage licenses, not just SSM) be issued under some authority other than hers. The deputies are still under her authority.
From a religious perspective, I totally get it. She’s concerned for her own salvation should she in any way participate in the profanation of marriage by having licenses issued for same-sex couples under her authority. You are free to think she’s nuts, but you don’t get to decide the dictates of her conscience.